2003-09-24 - The Prodigal Son
Originally Published 2001-03-16
Luke 15:18-19 I'm going back to my father. I'll say to him, "Father, I've sinned against God, I've sinned before you; I don't deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand." (The Message)
As hunger pains hit his stomach, the stench of pigs permeates his nostrils and clothing, and the realization of his predicament sets in -- we see the son go from reflecting on his situation to making a resolution to go back to his father and confess his sins.
Often we become mired down in the muck of the consequences of our sinful actions. We become paralyzed with guilt and constricted by the pains we have caused not only others, but also ourselves. We may go through a stage of anger at the world. This anger may then be directed inward at ourselves, and can lead to depression. I see the prodigal son sitting in a pigsty, thinking only of himself and his problems, having a pity party of one.
Only when he begins to focus his thoughts outward, does the solution to his problem become evident. Like a light bulb in a dark room, his mind and his countenance light up with hope. He finally admits to himself that he has sinned. He and only he can make the resolution to begin the journey back to his father and home. You and only you can make a conscious decision to turn away from the direction you are going and to turn back toward God - toward our home.
When the son makes his resolution, we now get the "big picture" of the parable. The son remembers the loving home of his father. Pigs are comfortable in their pigpens, but we humans don't like being outside our true home. Our Father's home. A home where we were made in His image. A home where He is watching for us. A home where He is always faithful to us.
Luke 15:20 He got right up and went home to his father.
His resolution to go home leads him into a period of repentance. This parable draws a beautiful picture of the meaning of repentance. Repentance is not simply saying, "Hey, God -- I am sorry for sinning." True repentance is not only being sorry for our sins, but it also includes turning away from them. Just as the son now turns away from his sinful direction in life, we should turn away from the sinful lures waiting for us when we go down the road of life in the wrong direction.
Turning away from a sinful life often involves turning away from people in our lives that are pulling us down with them. A person with a drug addiction wants you to be addicted with him. A person with a pornography problem wants you accompany him to the adult bookstore or the topless bar. Sinners love company. It makes them feel better about themselves. We all do it; we all look at others and set standards for ourselves. We kid ourselves about our own problems by looking at others and thinking, "well, David seems to drink a lot, so it is all right for me to do the same." We are simply rationalizing away our own sinful ways, just as a child uses rationalization to justify his wrong actions.
This coming week, I pray you will examine your life, then make a resolution to return to your Heavenly Father and take action in any areas where you need to repent.
Next week, we will follow the son home. We will see his resolution turn into a restoration with his father and his life that he left behind.
Father- thank You for giving us the strength to make hard decisions. Help us to stop looking inward and start looking outward to You. Help us to truly repent of our sinful ways, turning around and away from people and things that harm us and our relationship with You and others. Through your Son Jesus, we have hope in all things. In His name we pray. Amen.
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