The story of ‘The Prodigal Son‘ is a definite favourite among Christians. We love it! I love it too because it’s the most explicit description of God’s extraordinary grace. And the lesson is enough to cause any that have gone astray to boldly arise and return to the Father, whose arms are always open, and who is always ready to forgive.
However, I think, like every good thing, it is prone to abuse. Sometimes, people take the wrong lesson from a story. Too many people have concluded wrongly that they can always go back and ask for forgiveness. That they can be good later, and indulge their flesh for a while. This is a very dangerous conclusion to be drawn from a message of God’s unconditional love.
What may not be clearly evident in Jesus’ parable was that the prodigal son still faced the consequence of his decision. Having squandered his wealth, he had nothing to his name. Like the Father said to the faithful son, “all I have is yours” (Luke 15:31).
We should not therefore wait to have a deathbed conversion, with the expectation that we will have the same reward as the wise servant who brought an interest back to their Lord (Matt 25:14-30). We should not be so foolish to think that we will even get a chance to repent before we die! So many deaths are swift and unexpected. Woe to those who presume on tomorrow! It is written, “today if your hear His voice, do not harden your hearts!” (Heb 3:15).
And let us consider for a moment the numerous prodigals that never returned. Yep, they are real. The story was not told of the prodigal son who died of a drug overdose. Or who was killed in a gun fight. Or who suffered a mental breakdown and committed suicide. We are not told about the one who got hit by a bus, moments after leaving his Father’s house! These could not have returned even if they wanted to.
Let us not play the religious game. Let us not make assumptions about His grace. Let us have holy fear… For that is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 9:10)! When we stray or fall, let us be quick to stand again, knowing that our Father is gracious, but that our enemy is a prowler looking for whom to devour (1 Pet 5:8). It is written: “though the righteous falls seven times, he shall rise again. But the wicked shall fall by calamity” (Prov 24:16).
And lastly, let us consider the faithful son, to whom the Father spoke: “you are always with Me” (Luke 15:31). How wonderful and beautiful are those words! While the prodigal son was destitute and tormented, the faithful son enjoyed the Father’s presence, His peace and His joy. He enjoyed the blessings and liberties of His house. He grew under his Father’s guidance. He reveled in his Father’s love and acceptance.
That can be you! What joy it is to know the Lord. To commune with Him. Don’t miss out on that for one measly lifetime in the world! Like the Psalmist said: “better is one day in Your courts, than a thousand elsewhere” (Psa 84:10)! And again: “eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, what the Lord has prepared for those who love Him” (Isa 64:4).
If you’re out in the world banking on time, get smart! Wise up and don’t entertain foolishness another day! “Now is the time of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). Tomorrow is promised to no one. Let him/her who has ears hear.
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