“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.”
Luke 15:18 (NIV)
A nephew of mine is an officer with the provincial police. He used to work on the radar detachment and had some amusing experiences while doing so. Sometimes when he would stop a vehicle for speeding the driver would be incensed at the inconvenience and speak in a rude manner to my nephew.
It seems that some motorists desire the privilege of breaking the laws they choose and not be penalised. When stopped on the side of the road, these people would tell my nephew that he ought to be busy catching bank robbers and murderers and not stopping “innocent” people like themselves. They regarded it as their “right” to break certain laws and get away with it.
We have also witnessed certain celebrities who chose to live a lifestyle that clearly breaks the moral laws of society. They think they are above the law because of their status as famous people.
In reality no one is above any of the laws we all recognize as just and good in society. The world does not recognize any lawbreakers as “above the law”. We are all subject to the laws that exist and shall pay the price if we choose to ignore them.
The young man who spoke the words of our verse for today had been a lawless young person for some period of time. How it began was when he decided one day to ask his father for his portion of the estate. Obviously he ought to have waited until his father had passed away and inherited it in the normal manner. Greed prevailed and so his father gave him his inheritance early.
The young man left his family and went far away and squandered his inheritance and then began to be in need. It did not take long in such poverty for him to come to his senses. He recognized his sin and determined to go home and confess humbly that he had sinned both against heaven and his father.
The young man was not going to say that he had made a “mistake” or that he had “messed up”. No, he called it for what it was. He had crossed the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and he freely acknowledged he was a lawbreaker. Notice that he first said that he had sinned against “heaven” or God, and then against his father.
Sin is always first against God. God had given this young man a loving and generous father and he had abused the gift of such a fine person. So he confessed to God and then to his father. In his humility he had planned to say that the father should no longer regard him as a son but just make him a hired hand. But he did not have time even to complete the confession before the father called for a party to celebrate the return of the lost son.
So it is with God, if we are prepared to acknowledge we have sinned in his sight and abused the blessings of life He has given us He will act with love and bless us with every grace. Maybe you are suffering today because you have ignored God’s goodness to you and you need to confess that and be reconciled to Him. A clear conscience is better than health or wealth. Do not be like some motorists on the side of the road. Recognise you are guilty and come to a loving Father in heaven who is ready and willing to forgive those who confess.