There once was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, “Father, I don’t want to wait until you’re dead. I want my share of the estate now so I can enjoy it.” So he divided his property and gave him his share.

Soon after, the younger son went off and squandered all he had on wild living. After he had spent all he had, the market dropped out and a severe depression hit the land. The younger son ended up hiring himself out to feed pigs, yet even this didn’t pay enough for basic necessities and he longed to have his stomach filled with the food the pigs were eating.

This desperate life led the son to think, “My father’s hired men are eating better than I am. I will go back to my father, admit my sin, tell him how unworthy I am to be part of his family and ask to be hired on as a servant.” So he got up and went back to his father’s home.

But, while he was a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. He didn’t ridicule him, but showed great love for him by hugging him and kissing him. He asked for the best robes to be put on him and threw a party to celebrate his son’s return.

That account, taken out of Luke 15:11-24, is the story Jesus told of the prodigal son. Many times we read that parable and focus solely on the response of the father. It was one of love, compassion and a heart thankful to see his son’s return home. That’s a very important part of the story, but also important is the son’s attitude.

The son doesn’t return with a prideful heart. He doesn’t say, “I’m part of this family so no matter what I do, my father must accept me back. I should be able to live how I please and my father has no choice but to love me and bring me back in.” I’m thinking that if the son returned with that attitude the father would have been grateful to see him, but sent him back out again.

The son, instead, returns home with a humble heart. He recognizes what he did was a terrible sin that reflected badly on himself and his family name. He knew he no longer deserved to be part of the family. He arrived seeking grace and mercy from his father. His heart was much different now when he returned home than it was when he had left. 

We hear much of God’s love, grace and mercy. Perhaps you think in your heart that it doesn’t matter what you do, God will take you back. He will — if you return with a humble heart. When you know you’ve not been following God, heed the words of James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

God’s willing to take you and I back, if we will only come to Him with a humble heart.