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Everything I Have Is Yours!

This week’s edition of “How did I not realize this was about generosity!?!?!” Today, we are taking a look at The Prodigal Son (found in Luke 15:11-32).

Yes the famous bible story about a son who takes his inheritance, blows it on booze, hookers, and parties, only to end up living with pigs and groveling his way back into his father’s good graces. That is what we all think of first, cause obviously that’s what sells: sex and drama, even in the Bible.

But lets examine together the incredibly generous actions that father demonstrated throughout the passage.

THE INHERITANCE

Each son in a Jewish family was due an equal portion of the father’s estate upon the father’s death, except for the eldest son, who got a double portion of everyone else’s amount. So since this dad only had 2 sons (as far as we know), the math comes out to 2/3 for the older son, and 1/3 to the younger son. This double portion was not only for his own reward, but also meant he was responsible to take care of the rest of the family, including surviving spouses and children who weren’t married off.

So the youngest son was entitled to his own portion and had the freedom to venture wherever he pleased. But the big difference is this father was still kicking, and he could have easily refused the younger son altogether. But he didn’t. He gave it early when he didn’t have to. He gave it freely. There is no sense in the text that the father did this begrudgingly or with strings attached. He just gave it to him.

THE SERVANTS

As the son is wallowing in his own mess (and the pigs mess as well), he starts making a plan to go back home. But he’s already lost his inheritance, so what can he do? The only option, to him, is to come back as a servant and work for his father.

What’s interesting is how he describes the servants. “How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger” (Luke 15:17). These aren’t starving slaves. They have “more than enough.” Where would that ample supply of bread come from that would make a paleo dieter madly jealous? The father. He was a generous boss who made sure people under his command didn’t go hungry, but had what they needed, and even beyond what they needed.

THE RETURN

So the son comes back ready with his elevator pitch memorized. But before he can get the words out, the father responds. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). His immediate reaction to seeing his lost son is compassion overflowing into immediate acts of affection.

Then he calls his servants to bring him gifts. Just look at this swag bag:

  • The “best” robe
  • A ring
  • Shoes (did he lose them at some point?)
  • A fattened calf

Not reheating leftovers or a spare skinny cow. It’s gotta be fat and juicy. The clothes can’t come from the Walmart sale racks. That drip better be Versace! Abundant, overflowing generosity.

THE OLDER SON

Then we get to the older son. He’s pissed cause he stayed and did all the right things. He didn’t ask for his inheritance early. He couldn’t just up and leave because he had a responsibility to the entire family. He didn’t waste it all being a selfish little brat. And when did the father ever buy him all the nice things and throw a party for him and his friends? What gives?

Notice how everything he’s talking about is what he’s done and what he deservers? How long had he been holding onto this, I wonder? Maybe he thought he was doing the right thing by not asking. Or perhaps he didn’t realize how generous his father was, too busy trying to earn his love instead of embracing his position as a privileged son.

But isn’t it funny that he doesn’t start by actually voicing his displeasure directly? Instead, he goes outside by himself and pouts, refusing to go inside with everybody else. My son did the same thing tonight, literally the same day I’m typing this. I had shooshed him while commercials were going on during the Super Bowl, and he left the room and slammed his door. And I let him simmer in his room.

But the father in this story is a better man than me. He didn’t let the older son cool off; he went out to him, just like he did for the younger son. And his first line out of his mouth is one of my favorite lines in this story.

And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Luke 15:31

These are the blessings of being a son:

#1 You get the Father. Access to him, all the time, anytime. He’s here with you.

#2 You have access to everything that is his. Which is actually… everything. Because he owns the world.

The father cared about the people in his life, servants and sons alike, no matter how they treated him, and he saw them in their darkest of times. There was nothing he held back from them, and his natural instinct was to lavishly give away.

And of course… this is a story about our Heavenly Father. God’s the model of generosity I’m aiming to become more like.

[Photo by Abstral Official on Unsplash. Enhanced by J.B.]

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