When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, "At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” Luke 15:18-19
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful, yet to those who have be trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:11
I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:3-5
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:12-15
Let's begin with the 2 Timothy 1 passage above where the Apostle Paul says of Timothy, "I am mindful of the sincere faith within you." The preminent desire of every Christian parent is for there to be a "sincere faith" within their children. In the 2 Timothy 3 passage above Paul says to Timothy, "continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of." Right up there with the desire for our children to come to faith is our desire for them to continue in their faith. But sometimes the journey of our children's faith becomes interrupted like in the story of the prodigal son we have been looking at. And so for some Christian parents there is third desire that becomes the overarching desire of their hearts: the return to faith of their prodigal children.
Certainly this was the case for the father in our story. We saw yesterday the beautiful response of the father to his son's return but what this father was going through while his son was living in rebellion to God and him was anything but a beautiful experience (Remember the son had gotten his inheritance from his father, gone to a distant land, and spent it all on loose living). In the Luke passage above we are told that the son "finally came to his senses." From the moment the son became a prodigal his father must have considered him to have lost his senses and the cry of his heart surely was, "God Almighty, bring my son to his senses." The father's prodigal son does come to his senses. Coming to his senses has to do with the son seeing clearly the contrast of his dire circumstances to the home he had left behind but it involves a far more important contrast. The son sees clearly the contrast between the "faith" he had walked away from and the "rebellion" he had entered into. This is why he says, "I have sinned against both heaven and you."
Consider again the beautiful response of the father to his son's return: "Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him." Knowing only that his son had physically returned, without any knowledge of whether there was a return to faith as well, the father extended unconditional love to his son. It was then that the Father heard the words of the Luke passage above and he had double reason to celebrate: his son's return home and the son's return to God and the faith he had instilled in him from his childhood on up. The Hebrews 12 passage above is a great expression of reassurance to us as parents. After persevering through the sometimes uncomfortable process of training our children (even if they stray), afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
Lord, thank you for your unconditional love for us. Help us to extend unconditional love to our children no matter what. Help those of us who have prodigal children to rest in you. Help us to believe that you are wonderfully at work drawing them back to you and the faith that has been instilled in them. Help us remember that we were all prodigals in regard to you as seen in the words of 1 Peter 2:25 – “For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”
Posted on Fri, May 1, 2015
by Alan Porter