Posted on March 23rd, 2017
Bloomberg last week reported on a survey on trends with inheritances and expectations of heirs. More often, children are disappointed, because the amount inherited is less than anticipated. Undoubtedly the grandsons of Leona Helmsley were disappointed. She left $12 million to her dog Trouble, while leaving her two grandsons out of the will.
Perhaps you’re hoping for an inheritance. You may imagine it would change your life. And if you got everything you were hoping for, and more – I’m sure it would change your life. But would that be for the better?
The article notes what I’ve certainly observed – inheritances not only disappoint, but divide. Family members turn on each other.
The younger son in tonight’s parable (Luke 15:11-32) couldn’t wait for his inheritance. Literally. He asked for it up front, and what is more surprising, the father gave it. The extravagant love of the father was then squandered by the son. He lives prodigiously, which is to say, enormously, in a huge, colossal way. That’s where the term prodigal son comes from.
He goes to the city and, as our translation puts it, “squandered his property in reckless living.” I’m not sure reckless quite captures it. Other Bible translations have prodigal, wild, undisciplined and dissipated. The original word means incapable of being saved (Spicq).
We know – or think we know – situations and people like that. A person is incurably addicted, hopelessly corrupt. Incapable of being saved.
I once knew a man, an elder of the congregation, who told me, “Pastor, I don’t care what you say, what Bible passage you quote, I will never believe.” Not long before he died, he asked me, “Pastor, do you remember when I said I would never believe?” “Yes, very well,” I replied. And then he said some of the most beautiful words a pastor can hear: “I’ve changed my mind.” I gave him the Lord’s Supper, and not long after, he died. But I should not say died, for on that day he came alive, fed with the body of the living Christ, sprinkled on the inside with the blood that marks his door exempt from death.
What changed him? The Word changed him.
What changed the lost son in the parable? The memory of the loving Father.
It may appear to us like all is lost. But with God no one is incapable of being saved. The Father stands waiting. Day after day, looking and longing for his lost son. Waiting for you!
There are ways of squandering your inheritance beyond blow-outs in the big city. How much have you squandered through arguing and resentment, sleepless nights ruminating on words, emails, memories, festering with anger, imagining the worst about others?
How much time have you squandered in pursuits unwholesome?
How many relationships have you squandered because you could not forgive?
How much of your mind is wasted, filled with lurid lyrics, seared with impure images, endlessly distracted by texts and tweets?
We know not when our last hour shall come. Come then, let us spend our days running home to the Father, imploring Him to receive us home again. Look! There He stands waiting, with the ring and the sandals. The Lamb has been slain, the Supper is ready. That inheritance you once longed for was meaningless. Harmful, even. It could not keep you alive. This Father, His kingdom, His Son, His Table – that is the inheritance prepared for you. You will not be disappointed. ✠INJ✠