Summary: This is the seventh sermon in a series of messages entilted, "How to Have a Happy and Healthy Home."
For the last two months we’ve been looking for advice from the Bible on How to Build a Happy and Healthy Home. We’ve learned that a happy and healthy home has three building blocks:
(1) a sincere relationship with God,
(2) a strong marriage,
(3) and a solid parent/child relationship.
We’ve talked to children about honoring their parents. We’ve talked to parents on how to raise their children, and how to win them to Jesus. This morning, as we conclude this series, I want to talk to parents on what to do with a prodigal child.
This is one of those sermons you hope that you never have to put into practice - but you never know. I know a father whose little girl walked out of his life shortly after she got married and he hasn’t heard from her since. Maybe you’re like that father. Maybe you have a prodigal child, or maybe you will sometime in the future. What do you do? What do you do with a prodigal child?
Jesus gave a parable about a prodigal child in Luke 15. His intent wasn’t to give families advice on how to deal with wayward kids. His intent was to show that Heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents. Nevertheless, there are some principles in this parable that can help parents of prodigal kids. I want to share these principles with you because there may come a day when you will need them. So what do you do with a prodigal child?
1. Remember that Most Children Will Go Through a Period of Rebellion.
It may last for a couple of weeks, a few months, or several years. It may be moderate or it may be severe. If your child goes through a rebellious stage. . . .
(a) they may try to sow some wild oats. And you know what it means to sow wild oats, don’t you? Sowing wild oats is when you find out the hard way that sin has its consequences.
(b) they may hang around the wrong crowd (ILL: That’s what I did.)
(c) they may reject your values (ILL: I did that too -ridiculed the Bible and denied Jesus).
(d) they may even walk out of your life. That’s what the prodigal child of Luke 15 did. He insulted his dad (vs. 11-12). He walked out of his dad’s life (v. 13). And he wasted his dad’s fortune on wild living (v. 13).
So moms and dads, and future moms and dads, remember that most children will go through a period of rebellion. "Rick, what should I do if my child hits that stage?"
2. Let Them Get Burned.
That may sound cruel at first. Nevertheless, when you think about it, sometimes that’s the best thing you can do for them. Sometimes that’s the only way they’ll learn for themselves.
I remember my mama’s coal stove. I was around 6 or 7 (maybe even younger) and I was fasinated by her iron stove. One day I reached out to touch it (while there was a fire inside it) and my Dad caught my hand and told me not to touch it because it would burn me. A few minutes later he went into the other room and do you know what I did? I reached out, touched the stove and GOT BURNED. I learned an important lesson the hard way! Don’t touch hot iron stoves because you will get burned!
When a child goes through a period of rebellion, they will eventually get burned. That’s what happened to the prodigal son. (v. 14) A severe famine hit after he wasted his fortune. He had no friends, no family, and no money to buy the basic necessities of life. So he did the unthinkable: he got a job (v. 15). He has hit rock bottom. To a Jew, feeding pigs was equivalent to scooping out horse stalls with a spoon.
It gets worse (v. 16): the pig slop starts looking pretty good. He’s facing the consequences of his sin and he finally comes to his senses (vs. 17-19).
Feeding those pigs was a humiliating experience, but it was the best thing that ever happened to him because it brought him to his senses. If you have a prodigal child, then let them get burned. Let them face the consequences of their sin and maybe, just maybe, they’ll come to their senses.
This is where a lot of well meaning parents go wrong. They don’t let their kids face the consequences of their sin. I know of a father whose son is nothing more than a petty thief, drunk, and drug addict. And every time his son gets in trouble and winds up in jail, guess who comes and bails him out - His dad, every single time. Moms and Dads, don’t do that. Don’t help your prodigal kids out of trouble. Let them get burned!