by Paula Harrington
Whether it’s time, energy, money or food we have allowed ourselves to become a wasteful society. Jesus even speaks of being wasteful in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Not only can we learn about wasteful living in the parable, we can also learn other valuable lessons.
* True happiness will never be found in the world.
The prodigal son thought he would be happy if he had his share of his father’s estate, traveled the world, and spent all his money. Then something unexpected happened. A famine came and he soon found himself in a pig pen envying the pig’s food. That always happens when we take a detour from God’s will, doesn’t it? We find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, alone and afraid, and facing a spiritual famine. Only when the prodigal came home did he find the meaning of true happiness.
* We all make bad decisions!
The prodigal son’s bad decisions started with demanding his portion of goods, then led to squandering his money on worldly things. God knows that his children don’t always make the best decisions.
Adam and Eve made a bad decision to eat the fruit (Genesis 3). Jacob’s brothers made a bad decision to sell him into slavery (Genesis 37). Peter made a bad decision to deny Christ (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 18).
There are so many bad decisions in the Bible, but God loves us and forgives us in spite of our bad decisions. It doesn’t mean that we or someone we love won’t suffer the consequences of those decisions. What it means is, if we love him dearly and seek him adamantly, he will always be there to help us (Romans 8:28).
* Difficult people can come from anywhere, even within our own family.
The prodigal son’s older brother refused to welcome his brother home. Instead he threw a fit that would rival a two year old (Luke 15:28-30). Family turmoil can be very difficult. God knows this and gave us many examples of family issues in the Bible.
Abram and Sarai had problems long before they were Abraham and Sarah. Even King David’s family was overwhelmed with troubles. All families whether they are in the Bible or in twenty-first century America and beyond suffer from problems, yet God provides comfort and peace in the midst of our trials.
* There is one who will always forgive.
The prodigal son’s father was more than willing to forgive his son. “But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him” (Luke 15:20 NKJV). Forgiveness is not easy; however, in striving to become more like Jesus, we must be willing to forgive. Jesus asked the father to forgive his murderers long before they asked to be forgiven (Luke 23:34). Jesus didn’t hold grudges and he didn’t rehash old wounds either. He forgave, forgot, and went on. We should strive to do the same.
A wise person once said, “Sometimes it takes losing all you have to realize that God is all you need.” The prodigal son learned this lesson the hard way and, sadly, we too sometimes find ourselves in the pig pen long before we come to our senses (Luke 15:17).
Today, let us remember the many lessons from the parable of the prodigal son and use them to live more meaningful lives for Christ.
by Paula Harrington