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Thursday, March 30, 2006 

A Parents take on The Prodigal

At this moment in time I am not a parent, yet one of my members constantly comes to me for prayer and advice about responding to choices that there "child" (now full grown) are making despite knowing the Word of God. We found this article and wanted to share it with you. We are not sure of the author but it is from the Gospelcom.net website.

Loving Your Prodigal God’s Way

When I became a parent I realized that a parents love for their child far exceeds the ability of that child to fully comprehend. And I have come to believe the same is true of our Father’s love. Perhaps when we get to heaven, we will understand the depth of God’s love, but until then, all we can do is speculate. I hear repeatedly about sons, daughters and spouses that have strayed from the path of healthy living and gone instead down the road to addiction. Being exposed to these situations causes me to ask the question, How can I love my prodigal, God’s way? The world is full of philosophies, but what does the inspired word of God say?

In the Bible, we learn that God is the Father to which every family on earth owes its name. Paul said it this way : “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. (Ephesians 3:14, 15 NIV). Being the Father gives God ultimate responsibility for each one of our lives. This, of course, includes the lives of our children and spouses. God the Father sees, far better than we, the need for discipline. Again, if we look to the wisdom of the Bible, we read, “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews12: 9-11 NIV).

I think that it is important to note that the purpose of all loving discipline is to benefit the person being disciplined with a harvest of righteousness and peace. Remembering this desired result, we will be able to endure the discomfort necessary in the process. We can compare it to the pain that we would allow our child to undergo in having their appendix removed. Granted the child will suffer, but the end result will be healing. We could never expect a young child to grasp this concept fully, but that would not prevent us from doing what is in their best interest, because we love them.

Likewise, God knows what will work best in our lives and allows us to feel the consequences of our actions as part of the sanctification process. Sometimes we inadvertently see God as a cosmic ogre looking over our shoulder waiting to thump us if we sin. This concept is not accurate. While God does promise to execute judgment over His creation for wrongdoing, sometimes consequences suffice. If I tell my young son or daughter not to touch a hot stove and they do, I don’t need to punish them because they will experience pain as a result of their actions. Often times we shield the prodigal from the consequences of their sin and interfere with the discipline of God. The problem is that we will continue to rescue them until their consequences are so big that there is no way they can deal successfully with them alone. The time will surely come when we will be unable to rescue them. At that point we must ask ourselves if we have really helped them at all. Jesus was a Master at the use of illustrations to help us to grasp spiritual concepts. There is a story in the book of Luke about a father that had two sons. It goes like this:

The Parable of the Lost Son

Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
"But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:11-24)

What can we learn from this parable about loving the prodigal - God’s way?

1. We have to let go. Sounds easy, but it’s not. In fact, it can be excruciating. The father in this story didn’t have to give his son his inheritance before he died, but he did. Why? Because we get to the place with the prodigal where we realize that nothing we say or do is helping. At this point we must trust in the fact that there is a God in heaven who loves your prodigal and He has a plan that right now doesn’t include us. Until you take this step, the road to recovery cannot and will not begin.
2. We can'’t interfere with the discipline of God. We may get a call for help. We must be careful that we are not prolonging the downward spiral that eventually is going to allow the prodigal “to come to his senses. As cruel as it may seem, pain is a necessary part of the change process. It will be amazing to see how much a prodigal must undergo before accepting the need for change. We cannot shortcut this part of the process.
3. We must never give up. Remember that it is God that we are trusting at this point, not ourselves. We have the option to pray for our prodigal, and doing so will help us to cast our burden on the Lord because He cares for us. The father in the story saw the son coming a long way off because he was looking for him. Expect God to accomplish what you could not.
4. We need to be ready to rejoice when it is clear that they are ready to make a life change. Notice the contrast between the intended speech in verses 18 and 19 (I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.”) and the actual words spoken in verse 21 ("The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”) you will see that the father was so happy that the son never actually got a chance to complete his speech. It was because the father couldn'’t wait to celebrate. This is evidenced by Jesus words in Luke 15:7, I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” While they are rejoicing in heaven don'’t be afraid to join in here on earth.
5. We need to realize that NOW is the time to offer the help we had to hold back earlier. For the returning prodigal there are difficult times ahead. While there are the consequences of sin that he/she must face up to we need to be ready to encourage and assist them as counsel directs. We must do this with caution but we must do this with love. We can talk about the love of Christ “until we are blue in the face,” but now is the time to demonstrate it.

And finally, like every parent, the last thing we consider is ourselves. Have we strayed from our Father in heaven and gone far away? Is He perhaps looking for us from a distance? Maybe we have never “come to our senses and acknowledged our need for Him. Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29). Maybe you have tried that without much success. A well-educated man named Nicodemus tried to come to Jesus on the basis of his knowledge alone. Jesus informed him that head knowledge wasn'’t sufficient to get him into heaven when He replied, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. (John 3:3).

If you would like to take this step, in order to know God more intimately, talk to the person who gave you this, or call us here at the ministry. Remember the verse that we read earlier that said I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7) Why not take this step of faith today and give your heavenly Father cause for celebration?

About me

  • I'm Michael Potthoff
  • From Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States
  • My name is Michael Potthoff and I am 27 years old. I was raised in League City, Texas (close to Houston) I have a beautiful, godly wife name Ruth who makes me a better man! I have been in ministry close to 5 years now and Jesus Christ is my passion. Preaching His good news is something that I truly love! I am blessed to be able to do something that I truly love.
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