Among the most astounding, even puzzling of Jesus’ parables is the story often called the Prodigal Son. It is puzzling because in one aspect we see a younger brother who does not work hard to gain what he had at the first instance. On the other hand, we see an older brother who also complains for not receiving his share of the properties although he had been working hard in the father’s house for a very long time. Which is which? It is that, in the pursuit of our purpose in life, hardwork is not important or that or after toiling so hard we will always be denied of what rightly belongs to us?
Does the story leave us thinking that the father’s generosity does not pay enough attention to who deserves what, that in his rush to show his generosity of love, he had overlooked the work of his elderly son? Did he take the older son for granted? In contrast, I have often come across stories that presuppose there is nothing that comes free in life. There is no such thing as “free lunch”. I have also found stories that claim if you set your mind on something and worked at it, you would be a success, but if you were lazy or sluggish you would end up being disappointed. I read the saying which goes that the heights that great men achieved did not come by sudden flight but they while their compatriots were asleep, they toiled on in the night. Which way are we to go now?
The whole point of God in the story of the prodigal son is to get us to do the right thing – to work hard so that we can accomplish something meaningful in life. It is to make us understand that nothing worth living comes easy. It relates to us in a way for us to understand that “shortcuts to success are shortcuts to failure”. This means that when we obtain our success through an easy way, it is very likely we will lose it in a short time. Throughout scripture, there are countless examples where hardwork is always rewarded although the “favour factor” can never be ignored. Abraham worked hard to leave his father’s house to a country he never knew of. Jacob wrestled with God so that his destiny was changed. Moses worked hard to liberate his fellow countrymen from the hands of the Egyptians. Joshua and Caleb worked hard to be able to fight the timid opinion of the other ten spies. The story of Ruth is no exception, Esther fought to save the Jews. David did not have it easy in life; the times he worked for something, they lasted but the times he achieved it through shortcuts, they were short lived. Jesus Christ lighted the touch; the Apostle fanned it so that today you and I have benefitted from such dints of hardwork.
Our world today has been surrounded by theories and concepts that inform us that there are “quick things”. There are fast foods all over the city, so instead of cooking we go for fast food which comes without toil. Banking has been made so easy that sometimes you don’t need to go to the banking hall; you can do that in the comfort of your mobile phone or home. Goods can easily be delivered to our doorsteps; we don’t need to go to the market. Nowadays, countries have been so obsessed with the issue of development. Grants, food aids and other assistance packages are been given free to aid in developing “third world” countries. These strategies have not worked because since they come free, beneficiaries do not take ownership of development activities but if they are also made to contribute in terms of their resources, these development assistances can be sustainable.
The most pathetic of all is when people come to church and they are so much in a hurry to leave and be somewhere else meanwhile they can spend more than “church time” chatting with friends either on phone or the internet. Nothing comes easy and the more we want to get things in our own terms and conditions, the more we will lose out. If we can’t spend time enough in the presence of God, let forget it and expect not a blessing from God. I beseech everyone who reads this note, let’s have and spend quality time with God. Whatever we sow is what we will get. If we are so much in a hurry to leave God’s presence, then our blessings will always be quick and not sustainable. Does this even make up for the fact there are so many mighty manifestations in the house of God, yet people are still oppressed and we continue running after miracles? Let’s watch out!
The simple truth that God wants to teach us today through the story of the prodigal son is that, inasmuch as it pains to work, it also pays to work. God worked for six good days to bring this earth that you and I are living on. He is not a lazy God. If our concept or theory of life is built on Darwin’s evolution theory, then we will not value work and how it pays to be rewarded after hardwork. I speak to all who believe not in the existence of God, it is perversion. Resist the temptation to believe in false doctrine. May you receive the love of God and turn towards Him. Life will have no purpose if God is not the One behind it.
The book of Genesis gives us a biblical view of work. In the beginning, God worked and He created us to dress and keep His creation. God looked at the work of His hands and said it was good. He created us in His own image, so it part of our nature to work as well. Genesis 2:15 says that the LORD God took man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. The two words, “dress” and “keep” does not imply laziness. It speaks of work; it speaks of sustainability that can only be achieved through hard earned efforts. We must work because it is an expression of our created nature and love for God. There is no way around this, and the harder you try to find the shortcut, the longer it will take you to achieve the result that you want. God never meant for us to be involved in “get-rich-quick-schemes”. The shortcut that the younger son used was rather that which prolonged his goal. Just think about this: everything around you which is great is made up of many small things. The problem is that too many of us look at small and “insignificant” actions and the small and “insignificant” results of those actions and assume that they are “not a big deal in the scheme of things.” It is these “insignificant” actions or work which when we gradually develop will put us in great positions. When we ignore them and say “it's no big deal”, we will find ourselves immersed in a mess of habits that are sabotaging our ability to achieve greatness.
Success and sustainability are the key issues here. You will be able to succeed in so many and also short ways but think of this, how sustainable can these be? God does not want us just to succeed but he requires that which can endure to the end. If our house is not built on the right foundation, the storm will blow it away. Brethren, build a foundation of hardwork. Like the prodigal son, if he had worked for what he got at the beginning, I believe he would have taken steps to use the wealth he had and make good use of it knowing that probably he would not return home again. May God establish your path and keep you in the promise of eternal life.