The Prodigal Son is a story told to cliché: he is the classic ‘rich kid’ who spent all his money.1Luke 15:11-32 KJV But what does it mean to spend the inheritance early?
What got him in trouble? Was it not the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes? “Of course!” we say, and we do well to avoid those. But, what of the pride of life?21 John 2:15-17 KJV – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Here stands the older brother—perhaps, pinching his pennies and building his barns. He didn’t have love for his brother, only vain pride in his accomplishments. One son squandered his inheritance; the other worshipped it.3Luke 12:16-21 KJV – And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
If you have a greater love for God and your neighbors than you do for your wealth, I want to bless you, and your ten talents, too. But while I encourage you to continue in well-doing, I must also instruct the unlearned, and rebuke the worldly-minded.4Matthew 25:14-30 KJV [Excerpt] – For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
I submit to you, that if we spend the sum of our lives pursuing a worldly legacy, a domain in this perishable place, it is the pride of life, and it is just as damaging to the soul as the other two lusts are.
Squandering our inheritance doesn’t have to be about worldly impropriety. It can be the most wholesome gain in the world, yet just as powerful a lure to draw our hearts away from God.5Luke 9:23-26 KJV – And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.
God wants your heart first. Love God and keep His commandments.6John 14:15 KJV – If ye love me, keep my commandments. Do good things out of a love for God, and not for any lesser reason. Love your neighbor and bless him. And, as a rich young ruler once asked, you must search out, “Who is my neighbor?”7Luke 10:29-37 KJV – But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Invest your inheritance, whether it be great or small: money, talents,8Biblical “talents” are currency, not gifts and abilities as we think of them. time, or otherwise. Invest it for the glory of God: God who is love; God who is just; God who would redeem fallen man; God who will make “a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.”92 Peter 3:10-13 KJV – But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. He is worthy of all, His reward is eternal, and to invest in less is indescribable folly. And yet we do so, to varying degree. Where are our hearts?10Psalm 62:10c KJV – If riches increase, set not your heart upon them. Matthew 6:19-21 KJV – Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
I am not asking you to reject material blessings, but I would ask you to read Ecclesiastes.11Ecclesiastes 1:1-4 KJV – The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. Neither do I promote a depressed and depowered outlook on life. But I do want you to think soberly.12Ecclesiastes 9:10 KJV – Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. The pride of life is vanity. If Ecclesiastes vexes you,13Vex—To torment, trouble, or distress. then it is time to reconsider your investments.
God knows what it takes to run a business, to manage a household, to feast and to fellowship. But beware the excesses. Yes, feast! Invite the blind and the lame.14Luke 14:12-14 KJV – Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Why else are we blessed? Consider carefully: What is the purpose of your plans? Who is your God? Are you serving Him? How?
Now go, do it with God’s blessing.
For suggested readings, check the footnotes.
P.S. I hope this is a blessing; take courage!