The parable of the Prodigal son in Luke 15 is special partly because it is one of the passages that gives us a direct glimpse into the kind of Father God is. The son decided he would rather have the riches that he would one day have inherited from his father than to live in his father’s presence. So, he took his things and left. But somewhere along the way, he realized the difference that love makes. When in the far country, practicing how he would beg his father to let him come home, he said, “I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.” (Luke 15:19) He now recognized the difference between a son and a hired servant. He was now aware of the difference that love made. He realized that he meant much more to his father than just the work that he had done growing up. And now, he would WORK differently…work BETTER…because of love. Just like love caused the father to value his son above a mere worker, love would now cause the son to work for the father without resentment.
Jesus spoke about His desire for our submission and obedience in much the same way. He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” (John 14:15) We won’t keep Christ’s commands consistently out of fear or necessity. He knows only love will keep us walking with Him. Jesus also said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14) Again, a person might serve another for a while based on any number of reasons. But, for a friend, you’d walk on an endless path of self-sacrifice. For one that you love, you would do anything.
So for us, dear Christians, we must see how we’re destined to fail in our walk with Christ unless our hearts become filled with love for Him. We might obey for a while because it’s what our family wants, but without love, it won’t last. We might walk in the light for a time because we are afraid of the dark, but eventually, there will have to be a deep love that keeps us yearning for the light.
In the battle between flesh and spirit, the flesh has the upper hand, unless love draws our mind, body, and soul toward God.