Now that Christmas day has passed, retailers are beckoning potential customers to come in or log on and get what they “really wanted.” For the next few days and weeks, shoppers will stand in customer service lines with gift receipts (or actual receipts) and either ask to exchange or return their merchandise. It seems that most businesses have adopted a more generous return policy through the course of time. But, there is one place whose return policy is unmatched.
Jesus illustrates this “policy” in a beautiful parable in Luke 15:11-32. We have dubbed this story the parable of the “prodigal” son. That term means to spend money and other resources recklessly and wastefully. The son in this story did just that, meaning it was totally his fault. There came a point when he wanted to return, and Jesus shows us much about the generous father’s “return policy.”
There was no receipt necessary. The father was not keeping record. He did not ask the boy to account for his inheritance. He fully accepted this son on the spot.
There were no questions asked. He did not have caveats or conditions. There was nothing to sign. He was welcomed back with open arms.
There were no time restrictions on when the return could occur. It is true that the father was anxiously awaiting his return, but he did not turn the boy away for waiting too long. Truly, if the boy had never returned it would have been too late. But, the father was not otherwise bound by a calendar or clock.
There was an eagerness for the return to occur. The father wanted more than anything for the wasteful son to simply come back home. The son learned that rejection or disallowance was not part of the father’s policy.
The most beautiful thing about our Heavenly Father’s “return policy” is that it concerns that which never breaks, runs down, fades, or becomes outdated (Mt. 6:19-21; Rev. 7:13-17). What the prodigal son learned, we should learn, too. It is never too late, we have never gone too far, and He will never reject the one who comes to Him on His very fair and just terms. As long as we have life and breath, we have access to this generous return policy. There are never long lines or hassles. Nothing is more valuable than what He gives us when we come home. That’s incredible!