After many confrontations, the father turned his son in to the authorities because the son had been dealing drugs and growing marijuana in a business establishment the father was helping fund. The television program we watched last night was pretty much opposite of the Bible story referred to as The Prodigal Son except for the love the father held in his heart for his son; however as mentioned, the love of the father also bore some familiar similarities that in more recent society have come to be known as “tough love.”
Maybe you, as I, had never thought of the father in the Prodigal Son story found in Luke 15:11-32, as having had tough love but think of what it must have taken to let his son have his own willful way knowing it could lead to no good, to physical harm, and possibly even to his death. Sometimes we as parents/loved ones have to stand by and let our family members and friends make foolish decisions because having done all we can to guide them we do not and cannot live their lives for them. I see this as our training ground to a better understanding of our Father God’s great love and desire for us as His children to choose the better way as He patiently watches and waits while we go our willful ways. “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:9 NLT) He only wants the absolute best for us now and eternally.
Even though we see ourselves as the obedient, faithful family members and friends, does that give us “the right” to tell our wandering loved ones how to live their lives? Do we do as Jesus did with the accused adulterous woman brought to Him by the scribes and Pharisees or are we more prone to behave like her accusers? Perhaps we should carry a rough little rock in our pocket or purse or have a larger one sitting on our desk as a reminder to look inside ourselves and see that we too, have sin. Sometimes I have to stop to seriously think about being judgmental: I don’t really want to throw “rocks” and I really don’t want “rocks” thrown at me! Until we willingly make a conscious habit of looking within we will continue to sit in smug judgment; until that time we will not render or experience forgiveness. “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 NLT)
Anyone who has practiced “Tough Love” knows it is painful, perhaps more for the one handing it out as a means of drawing a wayward family member back than for the loved one to whom it is directed. Because of the consequences of his son’s additional entanglements, I have no doubt the agony expressed by the father in the television story will live with him until he dies, yet he did what he felt was a last resort to help his man/child. We know the father in the story of the Prodigal Son was in such a huge hurry to welcome his son back home that when he saw him from far off he ran to greet him! The image in my mind is as described in an earlier portion of Luke, chapter 15, verse 10 (NLT), “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”
After thoughtful consideration have we turned our loved ones and ourselves over to the One with authority Who always judges righteously knowing He will take care of everything with firm patience and ready forgiveness while treating us with His special brand of tough love? “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NASB)
© Marilyn Sue (Libby) Moore 5-26-09
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