WHAT MADE HIM DO IT?
T. Pierce Brown
The poor, wasteful, pitiful boy called the Prodigal Son must have had some reason or cause to leave home when it must have been so nice to have lived there among apparent luxury and ease. What was it?
Since God did not reveal in detail in that story, we may not speak with authority, but since we have seen many other prodigals wasting time, money, strength, influence and life in general, we can legitimately probe into causes.
Some would not hesitate to say that the restrictions of the father might have caused it, even though the father represents God, for there is a philosophy that any restrictions of law causes rebellion. Some even call Paul to witness, for he said in Romans5:20, “Moreover the law entered that sin might abound,” and Romans 7:7, “For I had not known lust, except the law had said, ‘Thou shalt not covet’.” The person who assumes that the meaning is that the law saying “Thou shalt not covet” MADE Paul covet misunderstand both the Bible and reality. Eve might have said, “If you had not told me not to eat the fruit, I would not have wanted it,” but she would have been lying.
We live in a society that likes to reason that way. “If it were not for Prohibition, we would not have so many drunkards.” “If we would legalize drugs people would not become addicted so much.” “Society made me do it.” “Poverty made me do it.” “Everybody is at fault but me.”
The Prodigal son MIGHT have said, “That old fuddy duddy of a self-righteous brother bugged me so much I just had to leave home.” There is no doubt that much harm can be done by a group of self-righteous snobs. But that does not get to the root of the matter.
He might have said, “I just happened to get with the wrong companions,” and he certainly would have been right in that. Our song that says, “Shun evil companions, bad language disdain,” is certainly good and Biblical advice. Both children and adults need to be aware of the damage that can be done by evil influences. “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thes.5:22) is still God’s word, even if it does not mean “Stay away from anything that looks like evil.” But that is not the root of his problem.
The truth of the matter is that no matter how harsh or unloving our earthly parents may be (and they are guilty if they are that way), no matter how bad our companions may be, or how tragic the circumstances surrounding us, the person who is made in the image of God with his God-given faculties has FREEDOM OF CHOICE and is responsible for exercising it!
If we wanted to be technical, we might say that there are mitigating circumstances, but not extenuating ones. Our guilt may be lessened by the strength and kinds of temptations we confront, and the bad influences we have to overcome, but it is not thereby eliminated.
“I cast the gold into the fire and this calf came out” was an excuse Aaron made, and it was almost true! But the fact that HE CHOSE TO CAST IT IN, and the fact that when the gold came out, HE is the one who used his graving tool on it to fashion it was overlooked.
Moses COULD have allowedEgypt’s allurements to sway him, and then have blamed them. Joseph COULD have succumbed to the enticements of Potipher’s wife and then blamed her. But they knew what we need to know. YOUR sinful choices are YOURS, and you will suffer the consequences for them. But, thanks be to God that we can also “choose this day whom we will serve” and it can be Jehovah!