Sin wrecks our lives. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). All we have to do is read the story of the prodigal son to see what sin does:

“A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything” (Luke 15:11-16).

That young man had all he needed and more until he decided to try the wild side of life. He ended up humiliated, broke and hungry. Truly “the way of the unfaithful is hard” (Prov. 13:15). It is always much harder that any person realizes until the damage is done.That has been true ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the paradise of Eden.

Had this young man done what many today do, he would have blamed others for his troubles. There were some easy targets. He could have blasted his father for not finding him and giving him at least some food money. He could have criticized the government and demanded benefits. He could have accused his new found rebel friends of using him because of his money. He could even have criticized the man who gave him a job for not paying him more. He could have blamed God and taken his own life. If a person doesn’t want to take responsibility for his actions, there is always someone else or something else to blame.

The prodigal dug himself into a hole with the shovel of sin. When he finally hit rock bottom, he decided enough was enough. It was only when he came to his senses and said “I have sinned” that he was able to climb out of that pit and get his peaceful life back (vv. 17-21).

How bad does a person’s life have to get before he humbles himself before God? With some, no amount of pain and suffering will bring them to repentance. They are miserable and they know why, but they won’t change. With others, the afflictions of life pierce their conscience and drive them to their knees. They swallow their pride and give up their selfish life of sin. This is a choice every person makes.

Thanks be to God for His mercy. Without it none of us could be saved. Not every Christian has experienced what the prodigal son did, but all of us have sinned and suffered the consequences. Yet the grace of God opens the door to forgiveness with the words “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). If it takes great pain in a person’s life to bring him to that point, then so be it. It is far better to suffer in this world and be saved than to die lost and suffer in hell.

-Kerry Duke