Wednesday, September 7, 2011

To The Siblings of Prodigal Children

It's an excruciating thing to watch...

Your parents, family members, loved ones grieving over all that deserves mourning in a siblings life.

It's even harder when you know you were once the cause for similar grief.

It breaks my heart now to have acute awareness of how devastating even the most "personal" sins I committed were to those who love me.

No matter how much we may want to, we cannot make the right decisions for someone else.

There are such things as righteous anger and grieving. But in our anger we are told not to sin so as to not give the devil a foothold. And in our grieving we are not to forget who the LORD is and what He is faithful to do.  So what can you do? May I offer some thoughts on three areas?

1) Sin, Consequences, and Forgiveness(click on any highlighted link to read the exact scripture I reference here):

It helps me to keep correct perspective and response to remember that all sin is first and foremost always against God Himself. When I remember this it helps me to tame unrighteous anger because the Spirit reminds of all the devastating consequences for their sins that they are already experiencing. 

They do not know the truth, and therefore are not free. They will reap what they sow. Everything they have done and that is in their heart is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom they must give account. They don't have life or peace in their minds. They are afraid. They don't know what path to take, they don't know what makes them stumble. Their arrogance keeps them from being able to stand in His presence. Their impurity keeps them from seeing Him. They continually hunger and thirst, never being filled with satisfying Bread or quenched by Living Water. They have no armor against their enemies. No sword of the Spirit. No shield of faith. They are being prowled around by a roaring lion seeking to devour them. They are in a pit. 

Remembering their true, desperate state restores my compassion. Having this compassion helps me to righteously grieve and process my anger.

If the sin is also against someone else:

God gives extraordinary grace to those being sinned against(i.e. parents). If you take up an offense for them, a root of bitterness will entrench itself in your heart and strangle all the grace and godly love out of your spirit because of the pain you are witnessing being inflicted on those you love.

If the sin is against you personally, then the standard Christ calls you to is this:

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
~Colossians 3:12-13

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "
~Matthew 7:1-2

2) Love.

 Love suffers long and is kind. Love is patient. One of the things you are probably frustrated with them about is their lack of patience displayed in variety of ways in their life. Let's not commit the same sin we so clearly see and rightly disdain in them. Because even if we stay at home with the Father and "do everything right", even to the extent of having faith that can move mountains and giving all we have to the poor... but have not love... we are nothing. We gain nothing.

We are not to keep a rude, proud record of their wrongs, but instead we are called to rejoice with the truth. Every tiny sliver of it.

And their steps will most likely be painfully small at first. Just as one re-learning to walk through physical therapy is utterly exhausted by a few small, shuffling steps... so it the loved one re-learning to walk in faith and obedience.

If we frown at their meager progress, how will they have the courage to attempt to walk better, a little longer, the next day?

Spiritual muscles take much time and discipline to grown in strength and steadiness. And we are not meant to walk alone.  

"Two are better than one,
   because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
   one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls
   and has no one to help them up.
 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
   But how can one keep warm alone?
 Though one may be overpowered,
   two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. "

~Ecc. 4:9-12

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
~Proverbs 17:17

If you can, be there for them. Be available. Not to enable them, for "A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again."~Proverbs 19:19. But to remind them the way home. To testify that home is a good place. To encourage them to return. 

It is in the returning that they will be cured of all their diseases. "Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding." ~Jeremiah 3:22

3.) The Road Home, Repentance:

What can make you so angry is this: it's obvious they don't get it. How much their choices affect others. All the things that have been sacrificed for them, re-prioritized because of them. And just to put it bluntly; they don't even seem like they feel sorry for what they've done.

You are right. They don't.

But... what I humbly submit as one who has caused such damage, stirred such anger... is that they can't.

Not in the way you want them to at this time.

Please know this is true: repentance looks different the closer one is to the heart of God.

As I wrote in my post to parents... the prodigal's feelings are deadened because they are disconnected from Life. This includes even really feeling sorry.

What to look for, encourage towards, and pray for is their repentance.

A turning. The choice--regardless of feeling-- to do what is right.

Know the road home is long. Every step they have walked away will have to be re-covered on the journey home. They will probably become much hungrier and dirtier before they reach the embrace of Him who washes the filth off of wandering feet.

But... as they near the heart of God...their hearts will become more tender. They will begin to grieve what He grieves, and hate what He hates, and love what He loves.

Maybe pray this for them right now? 

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe."
~Eph. 1:17-19

And I pray you will remember the Father's love for you, and that His joy will be your strength: 

"'My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Luke 15:31-32

Related Post: To The Parents of Prodigal Children


Blue Cotton Memory said...

This is just what I needed right now. My son is on that journey, where he is turning around to walk home. Thank you for reminding me of these scriptures - and how to use them to pray for a heart of repentence. You have blessed me more than you know!

Anonymous said...

There is a prodigal in my family and we are so proud of him. God captured his heart after years of causing anguish and pain and now he is walking with the Lord and ministering to his family and to others. There is power in prayer! It brings the prodigal back home. Thanks for your beautiful and encouraging words.

Melissa said...

"If you can, be there for them. Be available. Not to enable them, for "A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again."~Proverbs 19:19. But to remind them the way home. To testify that home is a good place. To encourage them to return." ... how exactly?

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