Taking Inventory

Luke 15:11-24

Every business owner knows that there comes a time that he or she must evaluate the progress of the company. Inventory must be taken and profits and losses must be examined.

Similarly, the beginning of a new year is a time for us, as individuals, to evaluate and reflect. We pause and take a look at our accomplishments, our gains and losses. . .that is, if we care about our future.

The young man in the parable of the prodigal son eventually, while feeding pigs, came to his senses and took inventory of his situation and where his choices had brought him (see Luke 15:11-24). When he was done, he found that he had great losses. He had made bad investments and all his capital was gone. He had spent all he had on things that were useless and unprofitable. The young man knew he had to make a crucial decision and so he resolved to go back to his father.

Let’s look at some of the factors that led to such great losses and what he did about it:

  1. Thinking About Goods Instead of God

This is a moving story told by Jesus. The father was a good, loving and compassionate man, but the young man was thoughtless and selfish, breaking his father’s heart and bringing grief to his family. All he thought about and craved was material things and pleasures of the flesh.

There was no thought of God, of spiritual things or of his soul. Not wanting to wait to put his hands on his inheritance, he approached his father and demanded his share. Little did he know that these material things would bring him only pain and grief, but they seemed important to him at the time.

  1. Thinking About His Flesh Instead of His Future

He left home and went into the world to enjoy his freedom. He wanted to live an exciting and pleasurable life but he thought his father was in his way. So he got his things together and went to a distant country where he wasted everything he had on wild living. He thought his problems would be solved by running away but, in the end, all he found was emptiness and pain.

So many people today do the same thing. They turn their backs on their heavenly Father and try to make a life far from Him. They follow the cry of the flesh, which is only for feeling pleasure. We all did the same at one time: “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:3)

Many are searching for satisfaction in material things. Others are searching for it feelings, drugs, alcohol and other pleasures. The sad picture is ultimately one of a pigpen, just as in the story of the prodigal son.

  1. Facing the Facts

Coming to his senses was the first step toward this young man’s restoration. He had to acknowledge that even his father’s servants were better off than he was. Happily, he did not ignore the gravity of his situation or remain in denial. He could have said, “I’m hungry but there are others like me,” or “I’m feeding pigs but things could be a lot worse.”

Instead of pretending everything was fine, the prodigal son faced the reality of his circumstances and humbled himself. He responded to the truth and the truth changed his life!

The time for a great resolution had come. He decided to turn his life around and return home to his father, who spotted him while he was still at a distance and was filled with compassion. The prodigal son was received, forgiven and restored. Forgiveness is available to all who come to God through Jesus Christ.

Dear friend, you may say, “But I am not a prodigal son, nor have I left God or wasted my life.” That is wonderful! That is exactly what the older son said, but he, too, needed to take inventory of his life and attitude.

Although he had stayed at home and served his father, in his heart he had rebelled. The father had to show him how  much he loved both his sons.

Let us all take inventory of our lives and see whether we need to make any changes in our choices and attitudes.

Pastor Joseph Hovsepian