The aim of every individual in this world is to secure affluence, so as to live without worrying about basic commodities for survival. One is considered free, as long as able to access anything desired in this life. With money at one’s disposal, everything becomes easy to obtain. It would then be a question of how that money would have been acquired, whether out of sacrifice or by stealing.
Successful businesses are driven by those having been recognized as investors. In our culture, a man has to sacrifice for a woman he wants to marry. He pays a considerable amount of money for Lobola (dowry). In some cultures, it would be a woman who would be expected to pay that dowry. In other words, to secure anything of value a person has to consider sacrificing something for it.
Beautiful homes have to be invested in. Without investment, it is impossible to secure desirable things. Money is not always necessary to raise investment. Jacob worked for fourteen years to secure Rachel. Jesus sacrificed His own life for our deliverance. The basic laws of nature impose punishment when receiving, without investment.
One may secure a bank loan in order to buy a car of his choice. The bank arranges a deal so that the investment is done before sacrificing. The person may risk title deeds for his property, considered as collateral. The person might appear as enjoying driving that beautiful car, but carrying a risk of losing his property.
In the event of failure to settle the loan, the person may lose his property, leaving him in a worse-off condition. His desire to purchase a luxurious car would have exposed him to incur a debt that impoverishes him. This is in addition to the dispossession of the car, originally found to be necessary.
Thieves may give the impression that they would be living in affluence, without having sacrificed anything. A degraded nation consists of parents who spoil their children with gifts but without expecting repayment. Those children would be enjoying an inheritance without paying anything, leaving them exposed to violating the principle of receiving freedom without sacrifice.
Good children earn their inheritance by remaining loyal to their parents. The parable of the prodigal son can serve in illustrating what happens, when a person receives an inheritance, without obligation. The prodigal son requested to receive his inheritance, while the father was still alive. His loving father gladly gave him what he wanted, without condition.
The child had not invested anything to deserve that inheritance, except that His loving father gave it to him without obligation. He then wasted the inheritance, carelessly. Anything received without obligation is in trouble. Value is found in what is sacrificed for. Instead of benefitting the person, any value, not sacrificed for, worsens the person’s condition.
We often observe a sad scenario where African businesses perish with owners. The deceased business owner might be having several children and be viewed as making a good income from the business. However, with the exception of, probably a few, those businesses collapse after the death of the owner.
The children start fighting, over who gets what, for inheritance. It would only be a matter of time before the business grinds to nothing. The investments that remain longer comprise children who would understand the principle of sacrifice. What quickly comes to mind is the sacrifice of Jesus.
The prodigal son, who squandered the entire inheritance, carelessly, sacrificed in a special way. He found himself having to feed with pigs. On realizing that this was as good as dead, he managed to come to his senses. His decision was to go back to his father and persuade him to allow him to, at least, work as a servant.
That humility alone was a special sacrifice that would earn acceptance from his father. The parable shows a father who later decided to cancel the incurred debt, squandered by his wayward son. There is a special attachment between a father and his son. The son may commit a terrible sin that degrades the father.
But when his son comes to sincerely ask for forgiveness, rarely do fathers fail to give in. As human parents, at times, it may be necessary for the wayward son to be accompanied by another person when intending to ask for forgiveness.
Children, being children do a lot of things that disappoint parents. But, parents, being parents, would also be always found to be willing to put up with some nonsense committed by those children. Rarely do parents throw up their hands in despair, over the misbehaviour of their children.
The father would have been disappointed by the wayward son. The waywardness of his son makes him feel very uncomfortable. He may still pay sums of money, for anyone offering to provide helpful service to take him out of drugs, for instance. Rarely do parents ever give up on their children.
Therefore, we see that children are special. As long as alive, their fathers may still sacrifice on their behalf. Good children would remain indebted to their loving parents, even up to the point of their death. The point is that there cannot be any freedom secured without sacrifice.
In the parable of the prodigal son, the father cancelled the debt over a son who squandered his wealth. However, there remained a gap, in terms of recompensing the son who had remained loyal. The principle of sacrifice requires investment, before enjoying the necessary freedom. The loyal son had sacrificed the whole of his life serving his father.
One would assume that to be a sufficient investment. But there has to be a difference between the one whose sins are forgiven and the one who never committed any sin. After having forgiven the prodigal son, the father created an inconceivable debt, for his loyal son. How would he compensate His loyal son?
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.
“But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’” (Luke 15:28-32 NIV).
The words of the father to the loyal son are not only soothing but come with a special promise. That elder son would then own the entire inheritance. Everything owned by the father would then belong to the elder son. This is how the matter of indebtedness to the elder son, by the father was settled. The elder brother had sacrificed for his brother.
The elder son would dispense authority over his younger brother. In the event that the younger brother misbehaves, the elder brother exercises justice on behalf of his father. This is why after the resurrection Jesus declared that all authority had been given to Him.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”(Matthew 28:18-20 NIV).
In our condition of the prodigal-son-like, our freedom is sustained by the sacrifice of our brother Jesus Christ. Hence, it is necessary to look to Him and obey everything He says. He owes nothing, to us, but we owe Him everything, because of His sacrifice for our own freedom.
In reality, for freedom to be attained, something has to be sacrificed. Without sacrificing anything, we remain under slavery, even though we attained independence in the year 1980. It is, however, the mindset that quickens the principle of investment or sacrifice for freedom.
The parable of the prodigal son provides an illustration that delineates the process of our freedom. Humanity can be viewed as a prodigal son who squandered his father’s inheritance. The only way of receiving forgiveness from our loving Father is to come back to our senses.
After remembering from where we came, we muster the courage to humbly return to our loving Father, asking for forgiveness. As loving as our Father would be available, He would be willing to accept us in our tattered clothing condition. He would then cover our nakedness, by providing us with better clothes.
This lavish treatment by our Father creates indebtedness to our special brother, having remained loyal to our Father, during the time of our waywardness. How much do we owe Him? To pay the debt, incurred upon ourselves, the Father had to sacrifice the elder brother. Hence, Jesus’ death nullifies our sinful condition.
The prodigal son deserved to die, for the wayward path he had chosen to take. The Father had given up on him. In other words, the Father had written him off, never assuming he would one day, remember to come back to him in humility. That prodigal son could have as well died in that condition of misery. He would have chosen to remain being fed in pigs-sties for the rest of his life.
The landmark decision he made, after coming to his senses, made all the difference. Sadly, this led to the sacrifice of his brother. All that remains now is to owe reverence to our brother. How much do we owe Jesus, for what He did to secure our freedom? We owe nothing to Jesus, except our reverence for Him. To start with, we have nothing to offer, as coming from a condition of misery.
The only sacrifice we can give to Jesus is our humility. Even when unwilling to forgive, any human being may consider the person who would be willing to eat a humble pie. Very rarely do we have people who are unwilling to forgive those coming in their contrite nature, asking for forgiveness.
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. At this, the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger, his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart”(Matthew 18:23-35 NIV).
This portrays what authoritarians fail to appreciate. They usurp the authority of Jesus, who sacrificed for them. They do so, conveniently forgetting their previous condition of feeding with pigs. Imagine if that prodigal son had failed to humble himself, forgetting that he had resolved to be treated like a servant. Only criminals behave in that manner, when assuming they desire to be treated lavishly, but without having sacrificed anything.
Riding on another person’s sacrifice, without recompense, can only be paid back by a hellfire, preserved for God’s enemies. When aware that there cannot be freedom without sacrifice, one realizes the need to appreciate that freedom is paid at the price of sacrifice. For human beings, that price is humility, only.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99