Arms Wide Open

Consider the parable of the prodigal son. In this story told by Jesus, a young man wants to collect early on his inheritance. He is freely given all that was promised him. The prodigal packs up and quickly leaves his father’s presence for a life of debauchery and womanizing. The father does not go with him. Imagine if he did! Dad would have dealt very harshly with this rascal! But that is not what happens. Father allows son to bail with his cut of milk and honey and then waves him off. The foolish lad squanders his bounty on booze and babes, and before long he is mooching for pig-slop. That’s when he finally realizes how blessed he was under his father’s care. In his case, absence does make the heart grow fonder. He runs home to papa where he is received back with open arms. Jesus obviously told this parable to illustrate our heavenly Father’s love for us. Yes, when we are rebellious He lets us go. He does not go with us. The fellowship is severed. Yet He waits for our return with the hopes we will long for His presence once again. When we do come back, He always welcomes us with open arms. Do you see how merciful God is? Even when He withdraws His presence it is for our own good. His intent is to see us restored. And for man to be restored he must first be broken, so God allows him time in the pig sty.


The lesson of the prodigal agrees with what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. (See 1 Corinthians 5.) In this uncompromising letter, the apostle addresses some hanky-panky between a young man and his step-mother. Because this fellow was unrepentant Paul charged, “…deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5). This wayward lamb was to be denied the privilege of Christian fellowship. While some might say this is a rather harsh position, these same bleeding hearts would have only contributed to this man’s ultimate destruction. The truth of the matter is, Paul’s directive served to shake this immoral brother back to his senses. In his second letter to the Corinthian church Paul writes, “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.  Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him” (2:6-8). In other words, separation had produced its desired results. It was now time to receive back this repentant brother and love him like the dickens.

Excerpt from “That I May Know You”

Author: Terry Michaels

[1] Luke 15:11-24

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