Today’s Scripture: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Hebrews 12:6‑7

Desperate for food, the young man agreed to stoop to the lowest job available—feeding the pigs. His pride completely obliterated, he crouched down and began consuming slop intended for the swine. Each day since he had left his father, things had gone from bad to worse. As he held the slop up to his mouth, memories of his loving father flooded his mind. Filled with shame for his foolish behavior, he regretted the day he had asked for his inheritance early. It was as if he had told his father that he wished him dead. Desperate for love and forgiveness, he decided to return home and humbly request to be a servant in his father’s household.

Knowing his son would need to learn the hard way, the father waited patiently for his return. Although he had never stopped loving him, all fellowship had been cut off since his son left. His love for his son never dwindled as he watched, waited, and prayed. The father had shown his son God’s love and truth; it was only a matter of time before his son realized what he had rejected.

One day, the father saw a familiar figure approaching from afar. The day he had been longing for had finally arrived! He ran toward his son and embraced him. A wave of emotion swept over the young man—regret, relief, sorrow, joy, and his father’s unfailing love. The prodigal had come home. Although scarred from his sinful behavior, he would never have to eat pig slop again.

This parable brings me to a question: How can we save our children from eating the slop of this world? First, we must make sure God is the center of our home. Second, we must parent the heart rather than just looking for behavior modification. A child will never grow out of a problem if we ignore it. However, discipline can only work from established love that is Godly and unconditional. After all, the prodigal son returned because love was in the home. When you’re tired and your kids want to play catch, play catch. No amount of money can ever equal the love of a parent and quality time spent together. We need to have open communication and a foundation of love already in place. Only then will children take discipline the way it was intended. Even when parenting becomes anything but easy, remember—temporary pain today will save your children from eating the slop of this world tomorrow.

Devotional by Jim Scudder Jr.