And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.”
When I read about the prodigal son, I always think about self-worth, but before we can evaluate what it means to have a healthy sense of self-worth, I think we have to define it. What gives us worth? I think if we look at our culture, one of the first things that jumps out is social media. We constantly upload the best parts of our lives and then compare them to the people around us. The list just grows from there. Our marriage, our job, our house, our kids all give us a sense of self-worth. The problem with this is that all those things are based on earthly merit, which, if you look at the life of Jesus, we don’t see. Jesus didn’t partner with the best and most polished people. He chose fisherman. Zealots. Tax collectors. Even when you take a step back and look at the Bible as a whole, we see that God almost exclusively partners with people who are not worthy of the position He gives them. David was a shepherd and God made him a king. Moses was a murderer with a speech impediment and God used him to deliver the Israelites. He simply values different things than our culture values. This all tells us that God doesn’t define worth the same way we do. So, the question remains, what gives us worth?
In the story of the prodigal son, we see the son leave his father and pursue a sinful life outside of his covering. He walks away from his father and only finds failure. However, as we read below, the father welcomed him home with open arms. Why? It’s not because the son had deserved forgiveness. It’s not because he had a great social media presence. It’s not that he had a great job. It’s because of who his father was. His worth had nothing to do with his accomplishments, but it had everything to do with his father’s love for him. That is the same today. Our worth should be defined by the way God views us…with love and grace. That’s my challenge to you this week. Look in the mirror and see yourself in the same way the father saw his son, and the same way Jesus sees you.
But when he came to himself, he said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.’” And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 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. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” And they began to celebrate.