Most of us are familiar with the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. Although we’ve heard this story countless times and in countless ways, if we struggle with addiction, it is also a timeless story that has much to show us. There are the 10 truths that the Prodigal Son teaches us about recovery.
1. We’re All Given a Choice.
The father gave the prodigal son freedom when he, “agreed to divide his wealth between his sons” (Luke 15:12b, NLT). God gives us all a choice. Although we are free to choose addiction, we are not free to choose the consequences.
2. Behind Every Addict Is an Enabler.
The prodigal son must’ve had friends that helped him spend his money and enable his lifestyle. But when he ran out of money, he had to move because he had no one. Somewhere along the way, someone may have enabled us; we alone, though, are responsible for our recovery.
3. There Is Strength in Weakness.
As he set off on his journey, the prodigal son seemed so sure of himself. Later, he was so hungry that “even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him” (v. 16). We can keep in mind that we are weak; but Jesus, our Higher Power, is strong.
4. Recovery Begins When Rescuing Ends.
The prodigal son came to his senses because his family didn’t try to rescue him. Our family may have made excuses for us and bailed us out of tough situations. Instead of looking for someone to rescue us, we must take responsibility.
5. Life-Change Is a Must-Have.
After the prodigal son repented and turned his life around, there was a great celebration. It’s not just enough for us to admit we have a problem; we also have to be willing to turn our life around. Once we are willing to do the work, God will give us the strength to do it.
6. True Love Is Tough.
The father’s actions were based on love and compassion. If our friends and families establish boundaries with us, they may seem harsh or cruel. But they are showing tough love to us—it’s a sign they want the best for us. Likewise, we must learn to say no to temptation. And this means we must establish boundaries, too.
7. Not All Rebellion Is Outward.
While the prodigal son rebelled on the outside, the older brother struggled with rebellion on the inside. He struggled with resentment, bitterness, jealousy, and unforgiveness. This is a good reminder for us to address the issues that we struggle with inside.
8. An Addict Must Own Up To Their Consequences.
Part of the prodigal son’s recovery was facing consequences. For example, one thing he had to live with for the rest of his life was that everything his father owned would go to his older brother. The same is true for us—when we recover from addiction, we must own up to our actions.
9. Addiction Affects The Whole Family.
The consequences of the prodigal son’s poor choices affected not only his relationship with God but his entire family. If you struggle with addiction, it is recommended that your family get help. Encourage them to go to a Life Recovery Group, and see a licensed counselor.
10. Confession Is Healing.
The prodigal son confessed to his father, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you” (v. 18). His repentance and confession led to the Prodigal Son reconciling with his family. We must confess our sins to the Lord, those whom we’ve hurt, and someone we trust to find healing.
Would you like to learn more? We recommend Take Your Life Back by Stephen Arterburn and Dr. Dave Stoop. It’s not too late to return to the Father—He has been watching and waiting for you to come back home.