The parable of the prodigal son has many more lessons than you realize. I also just figured out. That the father had not given his sons their inheritance was because he knew what the outcome may be. When the younger son asked for his inheritance, we see clearly how much his life got messed up. Sometimes, when we ask God for something and it seems like He is not answering us, we should remember that no is also an answer and when God tells us no, it is only for our own good. He knows the future. Let’s learn to trust that He is doing what is best for us at the moment. I wonder what would have happened differently if the father hadn’t given his son his inheritance. However, since that didn’t happen, let’s see what lessons we can learn from the parable.
It speaks on forgiveness. What the prodigal son did to his father was very hurtful in the sight of his father. His father was still alive but he was already asking for his portion of the will. It was like killing his father without holding a knife. Even after he had lavished all his father gave him, the moment he came back remorseful to his father, he was forgiven…that very moment (Luke 15:20-22). This also how eager God is to forgive us whenever we err. Remember the story of David last week. No matter the gravity of our offences, the moment we turn to God, He forgives us. He loves us that much. We don’t need to run away from Him when we have fallen short of His glory. Those times are the times we should even seek Him more. He is ever ready to forgive us.
God’s love is made evident. It seems funny how in a heartbeat the father of the prodigal son accepted him. It’s easy to forgive someone that offends you. The real trouble is trying to get the relationship back to what it used to be. Most people would choose not to have anything to do with such person even if they “don’t hold a grudge”. But not this man. He ran towards his son even before the son reached the house (Luke 15:20). That was love working. This makes evident to us, the love of God. A reckless love. A love that leaves the ninety-nine to chase down the one. A love that He is willing to show to all who believe.
The parable of the prodigal son also points us to our authority as believers. Whether you are just new in the faith or you have been in Christ for a while, you have authority. Notice that the moment the prodigal son came back to his father for forgiveness, apart from the fact that his father forgave him instantly, his father also gave him a ring (Luke 15:22). That ring symbolizes authority. From that day on, no one would look at him as the guy who used to live and beg to eat with pigs. He was reinstated as the heir. It’s the same for we as believers. It does not matter how far you’ve strayed. When you come back to God, He puts you back into the position of heirship. He gives you authority over the devil and his cohorts. You don’t necessarily need to have been a pastor for the past 10 years. Every believer at the point of belief, is given authority from God (Ephesians 2:6 AMP).
The prodigal son headed home after suffering so much and his father got him dressed in new and honorable garments that very day (Luke 15:22). Anyone who had seen him when he was living with pigs and dressed in rags would not have been able to recognize him because he was now adorned in honorable and new and most likely expensive clothes. This is what it is like when we come to God. He changes our status and makes us brand new. He rids us of our garment of sin and shame and gives us a new garment of righteousness and glory. The bible says that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things have passed away behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). You don’t need to hold on to the guilt or burden of your past or the way you’ve lived your life. Now that you are in Christ, you have been given a fresh start, a new beginning, a new life!
That the prodigal son asked for his inheritance and chose to leave home, had been of his own will. He did what he did…lavished all he inherited…and he paid dearly for it. He found himself struggling for food with pigs (Luke 15:15-16). He went from the son of a big man to a man poorer than a pauper. However, this led him back to his father. This brought him back to his senses (verse 17). I remember a meme I saw where the person said “when God sends you a guy to hurt your feelings for character development”. I must say, this is one of the biggest misinterpretations of who God is. God would not break us so that we come back to Him. Remember I said He is very loving…love does not hurt. Whatever happened to the prodigal son was a result of his choice. So also, when we go through situations that lead us back to God, we should remember that it is solely because of choices that we have made. However, they have been crafted to work in accordance to God’s plan for us because the bible lets us know that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord, who are called according to his plan and purpose” (Romans 8:28). Dead the mentality that God sent you a problem so you can learn a lesson. Whatever lesson you are learning is good and according to His will but God is not delighted that you are in that situation.
The brother of the prodigal son got home to find out that his brother had returned and their father was celebrating it big time. Not only had the father thrown an extravagant party for him, but he also killed the fattest cow for his returned son. This did not sit well with the older brother and so he got angry. He started lamenting to his father on how his father is killing the fattest cow he has for a prodigal child but upon all his faithfulness to his father, his father had never done as much as give him a small goat to share with his friends (Luke 15: 25-30). His father then told him that it is worth celebrating because the lost has been found and the dead, brought to life (Luke 15:32). This is also significant of what happens when a sinner gets born again. The bible lets us know that heaven is ecstatic even when just one sinner gets saved (Luke 15:10). Sometimes, when we see how much someone who just recently got born again is celebrated or how much he is blessed, we tend to get “envious”. It could actually be somehow seeing someone that just discovered God exists getting so much attention be it from people or even God. Then we begin to think “what about me Lord? Have I not served you for so long?” But the truth remains that there is more joy when the lost is found. People celebrate birthdays for the living but when the dead is brought back to life, the celebration is on a whole different level. Also, the brother of the prodigal son missed a point. His father told him “all I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). Many times, we are too busy praying and crying to God and waiting for something that God says is ours already. We’re too busy comparing ourselves to the person who just recently got born again, that God is still trying to spoon-feed till he gets stronger in the faith. The older brother was waiting for his father to give it to him but his father was saying what’s mine is also yours! The Bible tells us that all things belong to us as we belong to Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). Stop crying to God for what you already have…He’s telling you all you have to do is claim it. It is already yours!
Finally, another thing we learn from the parable of the prodigal son is money management. The prodigal son had plenty yet in so little time he began to live a wretched life (Luke 15: 12-14). Even if you are living in abundance today, be careful not to spend frivolously. He did not foresee the coming famine but if he had been a wise spender, he would have been saved from suffering. The God we serve is also a planner. That is one of the major things that explain how orderly He created the world. We too should be planners. Be wise when it comes to your finances.