Prodigal: reckless, wasteful, extravagant
to spend without reservation, restraint, or regret
Prodigal most often is applied to the attitude of the Son toward his inheritance (with his Jerry Springer-style hedonism), yet I’d love to change your mind on that. Have you ever considered that there was another in this story more extravagant, more reckless with the inheritance… the FATHER! Which of you dads would grant the same request to your 21 year old son? Which of you would give 1/2 of what you own – a hard-earned living – just to be squandered? Dave Ramsey says that the average time for kids to spend their inheritance (60 yrs of saving) is only 18 months!
But that is the point of the story… this is about God & about the Grace by which He parents us. GRACE: goodness of God that is free of charge, no strings attached, on the house; the riches of God that scream to be abused; the undeserved favor of God that cannot be defined or captured by words; the unconditional love of God that is so often spurned; the acceptance of God that will not be accepted.
Daniel Smith, the first great Tennesseean, is a great example of how parents normally parent… according to performance and acceptance. Watch the Video about how he handled his daughter Polly’s eloping with Samuel Donelson…
In a world of un-grace, where you hear: “no free lunch, you get what you deserve, earn your respect” … we can tend to parent the same. But God doesn’t parent that way – He is radically different… He parents with far less control that I exert, and with much more free will than I extend, and is perfectly consistent with the consequences (balancing truth & grace).
How will you respond to such grace? This is important because:
How I respond to God’s grace will likely be how I teach my kids to as well.
How I respond to my Father will determine what kind of parent I will be.
1. Take advantage of it. The youngest son – felt ENTITLED to his portion – greedy, prideful, selfish. Represents those of us who abuse God’s grace to get what we want (Jude 4). Australian prisoner who found God in the Catholic faith, yet murdered a prison guard because he “knew God would forgive.” Dare we presume upon God’s grace.
2. Never request or receive it. The eldest son – felt no need to redeem his portion (this is me). Represents SELF-righteousness or a spirit of indebtedness. Gal 5:4 – run the steamboat of grace aground so that we can paddle our way there!
3. To gratefully accept it. The younger son returned: broken & HUMBLED. He represents a sinner in NEED. Luke 5:32 – Jesus came as a physician to the sick, as a Savior to the lost.
Which son can you identify with most? #1 or #2
What’s so amazing about His grace… to you?
Is it difficult for you to accept God’s grace? Why?