The tale involves a wealthy father and a willful son. The boy prematurely takes his inheritance and moves to Las Vegas and there wastes the money on slot machines and call girls. As fast as you can say “blackjack,” he is broke. Too proud to go home, he gets a job sweeping horse stables at the racetrack. When he finds himself tasting some of their oats and thinking, H’m, a dash of salt and this wouldn’t be too bad, he realizes enough is enough. It’s time to go home. The gardener at his father’s house does better than this. So off he goes, rehearsing his repentance speech every step of the way.
But the father has other ideas. He “had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”
We don’t expect such a response. We expect crossed arms and a furrowed brow. At best a guarded handshake. At least a stern lecture. But the father gives none of these. Instead he gives gifts. “Bring out the best robe … a ring … sandals.… And bring the fatted calf … and let us eat and be merry” (Luke 15:11–23 NKJV). Robe, sandals, calf, and … Did you see it? A ring.
Before the boy has a chance to wash his hands, he has a ring to put on his finger. In Christ’s day rings were more than gifts; they were symbols of delegated sovereignty. The bearer of the ring could speak on behalf of the giver. It was used to press a seal into soft wax to validate a transaction. The one who wore the ring conducted business in the name of the one who gave it.
Would you have done this? Would you have given this prodigal son power-of-attorney privileges over your affairs? Would you have entrusted him with a credit card? Would you have given him this ring?
Before you start questioning the wisdom of the father, remember, in this story you are the boy. When you came home to God, you were given authority to conduct business in your heavenly Father’s name.
When you speak truth, you are God’s ambassador.
As you steward the money he gives, you are his business manager.
When you declare forgiveness, you are his priest.
As you stir the healing of the body or the soul, you are his physician.
And when you pray, he listens to you as a father listens to a son. You have a voice in the household of God. He has given you his ring.
God believes in you. And, I wonder, could you take some of the belief that he has in you and share it with someone else?
You and I have the privilege to do for others what God does for us. How do we show people that we believe in them?
Do not withhold encouragement from the discouraged. Do not keep affirmation from the beaten down! Speak words that make people stronger. Believe in them as God has believed in you.
From A LOVE WORTH GIVING ©
(Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004) Max Lucado
NOW IN PAPERBACK
With a readers guide focusing on
1. Love Remembered: gleans crucial quotes from the chapter and invites you to reexamine them by answering some probing questions.
2. Love Deepened: uses parallel Scriptures to reinforce and clarify the thrust of the chapter.
3. Love Given: application questions to help you integrate the main focus of each chapter into your life of faith.