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"The younger son got together all he had, set off for a far country and there squandered his substance in wild living." Luke 15:13
It is not long after a man has shaken off his subjection to God — before he begins his departure from Him. He first gets the reins into his own hands — and then the old paths are too straight and narrow for him.
He has taken "his substance" into his own keeping — that is, he has assumed charge and control of all his own abilities, possessions, and energies; and now he will go out and try life in his own way — the way of sin and self-gratification. Everyone who is not at home with God, who is not living as a child in the Father's house — has actually departed from God and gone into the far country.
The "far country" is a costly place to live in. When the prodigal got there — his substance soon began to dwindle; and it was not very long until it was all gone — wasted in wild living.
This story is the literal history of a great many young men. There are thousands of them who are wasting large fortunes every year in this same loose living — in drinking and all kinds of debauchery.
But how must we interpret this, in its spiritual application? The "substance" of the sinner consists in his possessions, talents, abilities, opportunities, and possibilities. He "squanders his substance" — whenever he does not use it for God and for the good of the world — which are the uses for which God bestowed it. He wastes it also, when he squanders it in sin.
Here then, is the picture: a man endowed with abilities fitting him for nobleness and usefulness — rushing into evil courses; spending his strength in sin; destroying his body, mind, and soul — in revelry and sensual pleasure.
The man with one talent, who only hid it away and did not use it at all, keeping it as it was, to be returned in the end — was condemned to outer darkness! How much severe will be the doom of those who squander their many talents in sin, and use them to curse the world and drag down other souls to eternal destruction!