Luke 15:12, 13
And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me. And he divided to them his living.…
We all know only too well that God's gracious purpose concerning us (see previous homily) has been diverted by our sin; the holy and happy home-life which he designed and introduced has been broken up by our unfilial attitude and action. From the Father's home we have wandered away into "the far country." The strict parallel to this picture we find in the disobedience of our first parents and in the gradual departure of our race from God and from his righteousness to a great distance from him. As to ourselves, there never was a time when we were not outside the home; yet we may speak of -
I. THE NEARNESS OF CHILDHOOD. For not only does a great poet speak of "heaven lying about us in our infancy," but One from whom there is no appeal tells us that "of such [as the little child] is the kingdom of heaven." In childhood are those qualities which are most favourable to the reception of the truth and grace of God. And if in our childhood we did not stand actually within the door, we did stand upon the threshold of the Father's house. Then God spoke to us, whispered his promises in our ear, laid his hand upon us, touched the chords of our heart, drew forth our thought, our wonder, our hope, our yearning, our prayer. And well is it for us, blessed are we among the children of men, if, thus hearing that voice and feeling that hand Divine. we chose the good part, entered in at the open door, and have been thenceforth inmates of that home of faith and love! But perhaps it was not so; perhaps, like the prodigal son, we were dissatisfied with the heritage of the Father's favour, of a Saviour's love; perhaps we wanted a "portion of goods" quite different from this, and went away and astray from God. And there came -
II. A DEPARTURE FROM THIS NEARNESS OF CHILDHOOD. We opened the Bible with less interest and closed it with less profit; we neglected the throne of grace; we began to shun the sanctuary; we became less careful of our speech and our behaviour; God was less and still less in our thought; our hold upon Christian principle became relaxed, and the cords of the temporal and the material were wound around us. Then we dwelt in -
III. THE FAR COUNTRY OF SIN. For sin is a "far country."
1. It is to be a long way off from God himself; to be separated from him in spirit and in sympathy; to be willing to spend our time without his society; to be satisfied with his absence. The soul, instead of continually looking up for his guidance and his good pleasure, shuns his eye and tries to shake itself free from his hand; instead of placing itself under his elevating teaching and enlarging influence, the soul sinks into lower conditions, and loses its grasp of truth and power and goodness; instead of sharing his likeness, the soul goes down into folly and wrong.
2. It is to be a long way from his home. For God's home is the home of righteousness, of wisdom, and of blessedness; and to be living under the dominion of sin is to be dwelling in a sphere of unrighteousness; it is to be spending our days and our powers in an element of folly; it is to be cutting ourselves off from the sources of true joy, and to be where all the roots of sorrow are in the soil. Surely there is no epithet anywhere applied to sin which so truly and so powerfully characterizes it as this - it is the far country of the soul; under its sway the human spirit is separated by a measureless distance from all that is worthiest and best. Why should any soul continue there, when God is ever saying, "Return unto me, and I will return unto you;" when Christ is ever saying, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest."? - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.