This story has been retold in different ways and has been used to spread the “Gospel of Love” everywhere. In Luke 15:11-31, a rebellious son decides to leave his family and waste all his inheritance on worthless things. When he didn’t have anything to eat anymore, he realizes his wrongdoing and comes back to his father who welcomes him with open arms. He says in Luke 15:21 (NIV), “‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
So what does this story show you? In terms of money and finances, what lessons can you glean? Here are a couple of them.
Money is not always the answer. The prodigal son decided to splurge all of his money only to come out empty-handed in the end. When he lost everything he finally realized that his inheritance is not satisfying and long-lasting. Of course, we need to take note that money is a gift from the Lord when used properly; but it can be your worst enemy too especially when you abuse it and can be a sin when you love money more than you love God. Jesus Christ warns, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24, NIV)
Sometimes the Lord gives you what you want to teach you a lesson. We learn lessons from experience right? Sometimes God gives us what we want to show us that He is more than enough. When it comes to money, we quickly begin to realize that money can’t make you contented. The younger son in this parable learned this lesson the hard way when he lost all his treasure and went hungry. When he returned to his father, he readily admitted his mistake and attempted to make amends with his family.
Money earned has much value. Money that is earned through hard work is greatly prized. In contrast, the younger son didn’t recognize the value of money because he didn’t earned it and wasted it away on prostitutes and other frivolities. The Bible advises us to work hard, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8, NIV)
Honor the Lord with your money. When you become a good steward of all that the Lord has entrusted you, including your money and finances, you honor the Lord. Although Proverbs 3:9 (NIV) talks about tithing, it is also about honouring God with your wealth. “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.”
When we work hard, it is not enough to just save and spend. We should always include the Lord in our financial decisions and seek to honor him. Naturally we should enjoy the fruits of our labour, however it is also wise to consider how we can use the financial resources he blesses us with to advance his kingdom and help those in need.