As a child I did not go to church, but I was taught right from wrong. I was taught, “If it is worth having, it is worth working for.” I was taught moral values and faithfulness. I have never been able to get away from the things I was taught. Though we did not read the Bible, I was taught some biblical values for my life. Even though I may have strayed from some of them at times, I have never been able to get away from them. A wise father will teach biblical values to his children and though they may stray from their teaching, they cannot “depart from them” for they are ingrained in them. They take their teaching with them.
Such is the story of the “prodigal son” in Luke 15. He had a wise father and while he could get away from his father, he could not get away from his teaching. Let’s take a closer look at the father and his boys.
First, the father was a good man. Proverbs 13:22 says that a good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children. The father was building an inheritance for his family because the younger son says in vs. 12 of the text “ …Give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.” The father had wisely provided for his family, thus he “divided unto them HIS living,” and as we know, the younger “wasted his substance with riotous living”.
Second, we see that the father was wise enough not to go after the prodigal, but continued a vigil, watching to see WHEN his son would come home. Thus he allowed his son to “come to himself” (vs.17). Many times, in our desire to “salvage” our children, we over-run what God is trying to do in them. I think that this is a “parental thing”. We all have gotten in God’s way at times, both in our children’s lives, and our own, but a wise father will do his best to stay out of God’s way and not interfere by trying to help God out in his own way.
Third, we see that the son finally “came to himself”. He realized that in his father’s house there was plenty. If he could only be one of the servants, he could live better at home than in the hog pin. Home brought fullness to his life, but the world brought emptiness. The prodigal son had not only heard the truth, but he had tasted the truth in his home. A wise father lives what he teaches so his children can taste the benefits of his teaching. The prodigal son decided to ask for mercy and said, “Just make me a servant, for I no longer qualify to be a son.”
Fourth, we see the wise father was prepared for his son to come home. He was watching and when he saw him afar off he began ordering his servants to prepare for the victory party. His lost son had been found! In the first part of Luke 15 we find the parable of the lost sheep and the rejoicing that occurs in heaven over one repentant soul. The wise father had already forgiven his son for his selfish actions. When a child returns to himself and comes back home, he should find joy waiting for him.
Fifth, we find the dilemma over the elder son’s anger because of the party for the wayward son. However, the wise father lets the elder son know that HE has all the inheritance. It would not be divided again. The younger would not get the elder’s inheritance.
Thus we see that the wise unnamed father knew how to handle the very different situations. I think this is an excellent example of how God the Father deals with us as individuals. Never compromising, but always loving.
FATHERS, BE WISE: Train up a child in the way HE should go. He may be a prodigal, but he will never be able to get away from his wise training. It will go with him!
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6