In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus tells us about how his Heavenly Father would act towards two wayward sons—wayward for different reasons but still wayward; both sons were still making the wrong choices in life.
I want you to notice something.
The Father’s behavior is not changed or even challenged by the behaviors of his sons who are making the wrong choices in life.
The Father is open handed. He is generous. He is generous to both sons. Both sons receive all the inheritance that is due them (and probably more).
God is so generous to us, and just as our Heavenly Father is generous, Dads and Moms, we should be generous to our children. We should be generous with our time and our resources.
The Father is not only open handed he is also openhearted.
The Father goes out to engage both sons. We hear mostly about the Father going out to engage the younger brother, but the Father also goes out to find and explain himself to the elder son…even to explain that the entire estate is his and that he should not worry about his financial future. The Father almost begs the elder brother to come to the party.
It seems to me that the Father lives in a perpetual state of forgiveness towards both sons. The Father was able to forgive the sons EVEN BEFORE (AND EVEN IF) THE SONS CAME HOME.
Without forgiveness neither the Father nor the home is prepared for either son’s arrival. Since our heavenly Father is forgiving, dads and moms we should be forgiving.
Without forgiveness we say the same old things, feel the same old shame, process the same old sins the same old way, and have the same old tired outcomes. Forgiveness gives hope a chance and makes reconciliation and redemption available.
I have to admit I have fallen short of being the dad in this parable. If you’re a parent like me, there were times when instead of offering forgiveness you said the wrong thing, said it in the wrong way, and said it with the wrong tone of voice.
Instead of forgiving, I got angry.
Sometimes the way I looked, the way I sounded, and the way I behaved toward my children made them very fearful. One day I decided not to do that anymore. I noticed my Heavenly Father was never that way towards me so I decided to try to never be that way toward my children.
I asked them to forgive me and I started over.
But also our children mess up and do some crazy things and make some horrible mistakes. This story tells us that the Father had forgiven the son BEFORE HE CAME HOME. If not for that forgiveness the scene of the Father running towards his son, hugging his son, and kissing his son would not have taken place.
Is there a child you must forgive?
Remember forgiveness is not to condone the behavior or to suggest it doesn’t matter. Forgiveness is to wipe the relationship slate clean because you have given the wrong to God. I know that sometimes our children, and teens, and grown children do not realize their horrible behavior or even come home to ask for forgiveness, but if we don’t forgive there is no hope.
The openhearted, open handed Father created hope because he forgave his Son(s). Their home was a home of hope because the Father is openhearted and open handed.
Also, notice that in the story this Father had an open heart for both sons. Isn’t it amazing how our children can be different even though they are created from the same gene pool?
One son was a libertine; one son is a legalist. One son was rebellious; one son self-righteous. One son was snot and one son was a snoot. One son wants to feel pampered. One son wants to be pompous.
But the Father loved both of them and wanted both of them at the party. One son found it hard to be forgiven and one son found it hard to forgive.
They both had work to do.
Sometimes the harder work is not to be forgiven but to forgive. The harder work is almost always how to forgive. Is there someone you must forgive today?
Without forgiveness, the reconciliation and redemption that is needed will not become actualities. Forgiveness gives hope. Where there is unforgiveness there is no hope.
Dad, Mom it is time to forgive because the party starts when the forgiveness is offered.