This family month we are looking at the roles of males, females, parents, and children. Our primary focus is to look at what the Bible says about each of these roles. When it comes to the role of men and how the world says men should live, compared to how the Bible says men should live, is very different. One of the ways men are taught to live within Scripture is that they are told to love. This love is different from how our culture defines it. Within our culture, love is about ourselves and what others can give us. It is about loving someone as long as they reciprocate that love back to us. However, the Bible talks about a much different kind of love, and a beautiful example of this comes in the parable of the prodigal son.
The father within this parable gives two amazing pictures of how we are to love as men. Most of us know the story. The son wanted his father’s inheritance and wished to leave him, so he went into a far country and squandered his money. He then realized the mistake that he had made and wished to go back to his father. As the son was heading back to the father’s home, he had this whole speech planned out. He was going to apologize, acknowledge his sin, and ask to be a servant within his household. However, as he was walking up to the house, the Bible displays this awesome love that the father has for his son. Luke writes, “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” (Luke 15:20). The parable continues to mention that the father told his servants to kill the fattened calf and to throw a party for his son that returned. What is amazing about the love that this father displayed is that he had no clue that the son was about to apologize to him. The Bible mentions nothing about the father having any idea why the son was returning. All Scripture tells us is that he saw his son and he felt compassion. As soon as he saw his son, he felt love. He ran to him, embraced him, and kissed him. At that moment, what the son had done before did not matter to him. By taking his inheritance early, the son was basically saying, “You are dead to me and I want nothing to do with you.” Yet, the father had forgiven him and loved him unconditionally.
There is also one more great example of love within this story that we should all strive to follow. Later on in the parable, the father’s other son is mentioned. He is described as being angry, wondering why this son that ran away got a party when he had never had a party thrown for him. He brought this complaint to his father and the way in which his father responded is wonderful. Scripture says, “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). The father, as most of us would not do, stays calm. He does not get angry at the way his son was reacting. Instead of lashing out at him, he lovingly cared for his son and reminded him that everything that he owned the son had been able to enjoy. He does not get mad at the son for being selfish and prideful but instead helps the son to feel the love that he should have for his brother. The father in the parable of the prodigal son displays perfectly how we ought to love as men. We should all strive to love unconditionally and in a genuine, caring way.