Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
Luke 15:12-3 (ESV): “And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country….”
Is. 57:17 (NIV): “I was enraged by their sinful greed.”
In an agrarian society as in the biblical times, what was given to the younger son wasn’t like a cashier’s check worth one-third of the net asset (since the oldest received a double portion), but a deed transferring the ownership of the land and animals. The son, before leaving for a distant country, first had to liquidate the property; thus, the Good News Translations says, “The younger son sold his part of the property and left home with the money.”
Imagine a knock on the door by a potential buyer and the clueless father who, upon opening it, was told by the stranger that he came to buy the land as advertised. As the father was about to say, “You have the wrong house,” he is rudely interrupted by the younger son who says, “Dad, that’s for me.” “Son,” says the trembling father, “that land has been part of our family for generations.” The son, totally driven by self-interest and utterly indifferent to how his selfish action is affecting his old father, responds, “It’s my land now; I will do as I wish.”
That is what the human heart, ravaged by sinful greed, is really like: “More deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jer. 17:7 NASB). It is totally committed to the advancement of self-interest, whether relational or financial; it hardly thinks about its effect on others. Every adultery or lie to bring someone down to advance one’s career is driven by selfishness and indifference. And Jesus has the younger son embody that, to show its final outcome.
Of course, social science has long tried to obliterate the word “sin” out of existence, but that hasn’t stopped its destructive effect on people. Over half a century ago, Hobart Mauer, who was the head of the American Psychological Association, declared, “If a psychologist is going be able to deal with the reality of shame and guilt, we have to somehow understand a new term. We just can’t talk about it as wrong doing or maladjustment. We may have to reintroduce the word ‘sin’ into the vocabulary of the psychologists. I’m neither a believer nor a religious man. I don’t even like the word ‘sin’ but it carries a greater sense of reality of what it is all about than the words we use. I am just pragmatically borrowing the word only to be able to alleviate the sense of guilt and shame with which we live.”
As we will discover from further study of this parable, there is only one way to deal with sin; and it is not therapy or psychoanalysis. Ironically, the clearest response to this problem came from another psychologist, Larry Crabb, who simply said that “repentance” before a holy God was the answer. Sadly, Mauer never reached that conclusion; he committed suicide. What would the younger son do once his sin takes him to the deep bottom? What would you do? But there is a better way; turn back to God before reaching that gloomy state of hopelessness. Do it today.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 3-4