I was reading in Luke 15 this week about the Parable of the Lost Son and felt compelled to explore this great story for a post. The story, also known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, involves a man and his two sons. The younger of the two decided that he wanted his inheritance early and left home to go to a nearby country. As one might expect, he didn’t use his money wisely and fell on hard times. Realizing that the people who worked for his father lived a better life than he did, he came to his senses and returned home. His father accepted him with open arms and celebrated the return of his lost son. The older brother who stayed faithfully with his father became angry that the father had accepted the lost son back so readily and was willing to even call him his brother again.
The great thing about this parable is that no matter how we look at this parable we can see ourselves. Almost every time that we look at this story we can think of a recent incident where we have acted like the prodigal son or the older son. Let’s look at the story placing ourselves in the role of the Lost Son. How do we fail in our role as husbands and fathers like the younger son?
“It’s not smart to stuff yourself with sweets, nor is glory piled on glory good for you. A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out.” Proverbs 25:27-28 The Message
We live in a world where we are pushed to want it all and want it now. We don’t want to have to earn responsibility or earn respect. Unfortunately, this is a mindset where when decisions are made they are only made looking at how the decision affects “me” and what “I” am going to get out of it.
Our role of husbands is to make decisions that are best for our families. We are tempted to make “me” decisions and we have all fallen victim to making “me” decisions in our marriages. Typically, those decisions come back to harm us immediately or in the future. I challenge you to look at your decisions and question whether you are making the decision for “you” or your family. I also challenge you to be preemptive in your thinking. Are you making decisions with the idea of protecting your family from future harm? Is there a decision that you are making that is possibly playing with fire? In Luke 15:16, the Bible says the younger son “wasted everything he had.” Is there something that you are doing that is worth wasting everything in your marriage and family for?
The Prodigal Son was selfish. Selfish is placing our own concerns and interest above others. Once again, I am going to throw that “me” word around again. “Selfishness makes us look inward to find ways of satisfying our own needs and desire.” (Jennifer Smith, Unveiled Wife) We are all guilty of satisfying our own needs and desires from time to time. Are there some ways that you are being selfish in your relationship with your wife right now? Unfortunately, selfishness takes us out of being one flesh with our wife and we often times lose those opportunities for intimacy because we choose “me” over “we.”
The Prodigal Son was unwise with his inheritance. I mentioned above that he “wasted everything that he had,” but his lack of wisdom led him to destruction. His failure to make wise choices led him to living as a servant, feeding pigs in the slop, longing to just be able to eat the pods that he fed the pigs with. Are we making decisions where we are wasting our family’s money, time, and resources? Have we ever made a “me” decision that didn’t fit in with the budget that we need to keep to? Was there a computer, big screen TV, or boat that we didn’t really have the money for at the time that our “me” needed? Did we justify it with the ease of using a credit card or no interest financing without having the extra money in the budget for the future either?
Let me get more personal with you. We look at the money we earn as being God’s money. Are you giving back a tithe of your money to his work? Are you hoarding God’s money and do not want to let go of it? Is God’s tithe getting in the way of “your” new TV, of “your” new video game, or of “your” new gadget? In my own marriage, we have always been committed to tithing back God’s blessing. There have been times when it hurt and money was tight because we chose to tithe. God has always been faithful to supply our needs. Almost every time things were tough when we tithed, something unexpected would popup that took care of our situation. It might have been opportunities for more work, an unexpected refund, or an unforeseen gift.
The Bible says in Luke 15:17, “When he came to his senses.” I interpret this as that the Lost Son humbled himself. When one becomes humbled, they lower their dignity or position. One could also say that he had become a broken man. You might say that he had been blind to the blessed life he had and now he had regained his sight.
Later on the Bible says that the man exclaimed, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” The Lost Son even says that he was not worthy of being his father’s son and would be content to be his father’s servant. How many times do we fail to humble ourselves and admit our failures and faults? Too often we ask for forgiveness without actually changing. Too often we want to restore the relationship without fixing the heart condition that was damaged.
We see it easiest with our kids. They constantly get into some kind of trouble with each other and when confronted with the problem, one is quick to say “I’m sorry” and the other is pushed to begrudgingly say “You’re forgiven.” Most of the time the “I’m sorry” is just the words that they know we are going to require them to say. They haven’t changed their motives and may be in trouble for the same thing as soon as we leave the room.
When you fail in some aspect of your responsibilities as a husband how do you humble yourself to find restoration with your wife? Are they hollow words? Do you make empty promises that you will do better? Do you humble yourself and try to work on the heart problem? We can be better husbands and better family leaders by humbling ourselves to admit when we have messed up.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a story about relationships. We can relate to the story because we have been in the same situation as the characters in this story. At the end of the day, the Prodigal Son acknowledged his mistakes and ultimately was forgiven by his father. Isn’t it great to know that no matter how much we fail our Father above he is willing to forgive us of those sins? The next time you fail in some aspect of your relationship think about the Lost Son and “come to your senses.” Make a commitment to humbling yourself and asking for forgiveness for your indiscretions. Let go of your pride and ego and do not let those selfish motives steal the blessings that God has given you.