The Upper Room Devotion for Tuesday, October 17, 2023, was written by Nnamani Chidinma of Enugu State, Nigeria.
11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father's hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” ’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. 25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’ ”
Luke 15:11-32 NRSV
After receiving his share of the inheritance, the son in the parable from Luke 15 left home and lived wildly. When he was in need of help, he remembered his father again. He must have felt ashamed of his actions and wondered if his father would ever forgive him. But returning home was the best decision that the son could have made. The father joyfully welcomed his lost son, kissing him and calling for a celebration.
When we fall away from our faith or offend God, we may feel undeserving of God's mercy. But this parable reminds us that God always forgives. God sent Jesus to redeem us from our guilt, shame, disbelief, and unfaithfulness. We may think that our sin could never be forgiven, but God is always awaiting our return. No matter how far we may feel from God, God longs for our return and waits with open arms. Let us take action today by acknowledging our shortcomings and asking for God's mercy and love. God has been searching for us and awaits our return.
Pastor Anthony's Thoughts
The parable of the prodigal son is one of the most cited in all of the bible. In it we learn of God's capacity to forgive when we humbly and genuinely repent. The young son is like many of us, wanting to get all we're entitled to and want now, without thought of tomorrow. The young son learns the lesson that many of us have learn: There are lots of people around when we're living high, but few true friends when we fall low.
Yet what is not often discussed in the parable of the prodigal son are the consequences for the young son. Remember, he asked for his share of his father's wealth now. While the father celebrates his return, forgiving him the grievance of wishing he were dead, the son still has to live with the consequence of squandering his inheritance. Likewise, while God is dutiful to forgive us our sins, we still face the consequences for our words and actions. Yes, God forgives us when we repent, but the damage our actions have caused others takes much longer to heal, if it ever heals. I invite you to take a moment to thank God for forgiving your mistakes, but also pray for God to bring healing to relationships damaged by your actions.
Lord God, thank you for choosing us. We seek the path that leads to eternal life and pray for the courage never to depart from your side. Amen.