The story is about the parable of the lost son. For those of you who are not familiar with the story, it is the parable in the Bible that Jesus told of a father with two sons. The younger son tells the dad that he wants his inheritance early and upon receiving it, takes off and squanders it. Eventually he ends up broke and winds up working for a farmer and living amongst the farmer's pigs. Things are so bad that he gets to the point where what the pigs eat looks good to him. Then it dawns on him that even the servants in his fathers house eat better than him. He decides to come home and tell his Dad that is only worthy to be a servant in the household. But when the Dad sees him coming home, he welcomes him with open arms and orders a great feast to be prepared. The older brother however, reacts angrily that he has been "good" but yet his father has never lavished him with anything. The father responds by telling the older brother that every he has belongs to him but for today, they must all celebrate. For the son who was once "dead" has come back to life.
Many of us growing up in church have heard that but I am pretty sure that none of us have heard that story with the twist that I am about to tell you. In the Jewish culture, the older brother had special privilege. He would have been able to spend extra time with dad out in the field, hearing words of wisdom and capturing the heart of the father. An interesting point is that if anything happened to the father, it was the elder brother's job to keep the family together. The inheritance that he would have received, he was expected in that culture to spend every last penny to salvage his family. The Bible says that when the younger brother asked for his inheritance, the father divided the inheritance between the two of them. Why would the Dad have given both of them the inheritance when only one requested it. Because if anything happened to the younger brother, the older brother was expected to use his portion to go out and find the younger and bring him home.
The audience at the time Jesus told the parable would have understood this. That is why the story to them would have been quite scandalous that the younger brother came home all by himself and the older brother never went out to search for him. The part of the message that really got to me is that the point of the older brother given the inheritance was so he could pour it out to help the family, not for this own safety and comfort.
And this is something that I've been putting into practice for many years now and it is something I will continue to put into practice no matter whether I am having a season where there is plenty or there is little. I have always believed that everything that I have was for a reason. Not that I can't enjoy or benefit from it, but I had to watch that I don't start building a lifestyle of comfort and forget the purpose of why I have been given what I have been given.
Tomorrow is one year to the day that I left my last job. It was a job that offered me alot of job security. I made $3000 a month. That's not bad for a 29 year old without a degree! But it was really important that when I worked there, that I took the surplus of those earnings and put it to whatever God wanted or directed. I donated alot to whereever I felt I was suppose to donate. Sometimes my friends fell into bad times and I really felt that I had been given such a good job so that I could help them.
Today I have only a tiny fraction of savings left from my last work place. Some people may think that I am stupid and that I could have a very different lifestyle had I not made those choices to donate so much. But when I was earning that kind of money, my number one concern wasn't making sure that I was going to be taken care of. It was making sure that this money that I was making was being used for the very reason that it was given to me. That always has and will be my number one priority.
I also strongly feel that God gave me that job to test me and see how I would handle it when I was making good money. Because I really do sense that in the days to come, he has so much financial blessing that he wants to pour into my life. But if I can't act responsibly when I was making $3000 a month, then there is no way he is going to trust me with more. I believe that the last job i had was really only "practice" for me so I learned to get good at handling large sums of money.
You can be absolutely certain that in the days to come, God is going to come through of me and take care of me. In the Bible he says that those who take care of the poor will be taken care of. In fact, in many major religions of the world like Islam, Judaism, taking care of the poor is an integral part of their worship and it is believed that God's heart is close to the poor. And if you take care of the poor, you are touching something close to the heart of God and you will actually invoke a blessing on you and your household if you take care of the poor. I may have been made poor right now from pouring out my heart, life, and finances for the poor but just you wait and see......