Fruitful Financial Decisions in the Bible: The Prodigal Son
The Parable of the Prodigal Son (AKA The Two Brothers or The Lost Son Parable) is often cited for its many examples of what not to do. This is absolutely correct, but there’s positive elements to this passage in the book of Luke we can take away. Keep reading for some of the good financial lessons we can draw from this scripture.
"And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet." Luke 15:21-22 ESV
When the son returns having squandered the money his father gave to him and destitute, the father could have yelled and screamed. He had plenty of reason to hold the mistakes over his son’s head and tell the son to grovel before him for mercy before offering any help. He did none of that. Even though someone had misused money he had given, the father chose to not hold any type of resentment or bitterness.
Family and Money
Money and family often don’t mix well. When the calf is killed and a celebration started, the son who stayed home is understandably upset. The father immediately acts to smooth over the discord. He reminds the upset son that his brother returning home is something they should all celebrate. The father also reminds the son who remained home that he is entitled to his own inheritance. This shows some foresight by the father that he has planned how to divide up his land and belongings for both of his sons. Above all, he is acting to prevent finances from creating division in the family.
"And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” Luke 15:31-32 ESV
Modern Day Application of the Prodigal Son Parable
There’s positive lessons we can take from this parable Jesus shared to help us manage our finances better.
Avoid Family Money Issues
Avoid strife in your immediate and extended family by planning ahead. Be thoughtful before making a financial decision that could harm relationships in your family. This does not mean you’ll never make a financial decision that will make a frown in your family. Just because someone doesn’t like it, doesn’t mean you should avoid a path. It is important to mitigate a problem where you can. Sometimes this can be as simple as a conversation to explain an action.
Teaching Children about Money
Guard Against Grudges
Grudges are easy take on. Grudges, coming from money-related events, are some of the longest lasting. Guard against grudges for yourself and others in your family’s money life.
Treat a Gift as a Gift
A gift with strings or conditions attached is not a true gift. If you choose to give money to someone, truly give it as a gift. If you write a check to someone and there’s conditions involved, be clear about that to the other party. Making the distinction will keep resentment out of life for you and someone who receives a gift from you.
Make a Will or Estate Plan
It’s important to make plans for the future on how your children would be cared for, assets divided, and more in the event you or your spouse were to pass. The alternative means that the government makes the decision for you. Steps like a will can go a long way to make sure your wishes are carried out and family can focus on other things. Taking action here is a gift to take care of others if you pass with both peace of mind and financial means.
Picking a Guardian for Your Child
Be like the Father
The figures in this parable made mistakes. That is certain. Learn from that, but also learn from the positive aspects and apply those lessons to financial decisions in your own household.
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