Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. Luke 15:12
The young man in this parable which Jesus told has often been vilified as selfish, uncaring and wasteful….and rightfully so. As with all of Jesus’ teachings there are so many lessons that can be learned.
First, let us look at this from a historical context. In those days, and in that culture, it was unheard of for a son to ask his father for his inheritance. It was given to him after the father’s death. So in essence, what the young man in the story was saying was, “Father, I can’t wait for you to die. I want what is due to me now.” Or worse, he could have been saying, “I’ve been waiting so long for you to drop dead, and since you haven’t, just give me what is mine.”
What a blow this would be to any parent who has lovingly birthed and raised a child! This must have broken the father’s heart. But it gets worse……….notice that the inheritance was divided to both sons. It was customary for the older son to receive 2/3 while the younger received 1/3, so the older son had quietly accepted his larger portion instead of rebuking his younger brother for his disrespect. The older son may not have wasted his holdings, but he seemed to have the same heart issue as his brother – a lack of respect and honor for their father.
The man in this parable represents God the Father, and the two sons represent two who are part of the Body of Christ. Jesus didn’t elaborate on it, but I’m sure that because of the culture of that day his audience would have readily sympathized with the father’s hurt. People lived in towns and villages for safety, so his listeners would have envisioned this man being humiliated in front of his neighbors who certainly would have been aware of what was going on in the family.
Now let's bring this parable into our time. See the father's household as the church. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and the Father in His love gives us opportunities to repent and rebuild our relationship with Him.
There are times, however, when you will be made aware of sin in the church family. The Holy Spirit will reveal to you if there has been no repentance, if the sin is habitual, or hidden from undiscerning eyes.
If nothing is done about it our Father is hurt, the Holy Spirit is grieved, Jesus’ Name is put in disrepute, and the assembly becomes vulnerable to further attacks from the enemy. Political correctness has no place in the Body of Christ.
Jesus tells us that we must first deal with our own sin before confronting a brother's or sister's. He said that we should take the log out of our own eye first, and then help the brother or sister to get the speck out of theirs. Could this be why sin is so rampant in the church today?? Could it be that leaders and mature saints are so busy trying to hide their own iniquity that they overlook the transgressions of their younger brothers and sisters?!
It is time for us to restore honor back to our Heavenly Father.
God's Word is very clear on the protocol for dealing with sin in the church, and He holds you accountable. When dealing with a fallen brother or sister remember...
1. It is not an opportunity to spread gossip.
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. Matthew 18: 15-17
2. The goal should always be to restore the straying one back to Christ.
Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. – Galatians 6:1 (Amplified Bible)
3. You could be saving that errant brother or sister from great disaster.
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Colossians 3:12-14
4. Make sure that your motive is pure.
4. Make sure that your motive is pure.
The older brother in the parable did not try to stop the transgression against their father. Even if the younger brother had not listened to him, it was still the older one’s responsibility to try to steer him in the right direction.
Confronting someone who is in sin doesn't guarantee that they will thank you, or that they will even heed your warning. But God doesn't require you to change them...just to obey Him in pointing them in the right direction. The decision is ultimately theirs, and the judgment belongs to God should they continue to sin.
Seeing a wrong and staying silent makes you just as guilty as the one who is doing the wrong. Be sure, however, to deal with the person in love and humility. Remember.....except for the grace of God, it could have been you.
Do you truly cherish our Heavenly Father? Then it is time to become your brother’s keeper.