Once there was a young man who had loving parents and the comforts and blessings of a good life. However, he grew discontented and desired to leave home. To his father's sorrow he took his inheritance, cut ties with his family and traveled to a distant country. He lived foolishly and, over time, wasted his money. Penniless, he found work feeding pigs. When he was so hungry and alone that he could no longer bear it, the young man decided to return home. He decided to apologize to his father and hoped he would be welcomed back.
As many of us know, the prodigal son was welcomed back by his forgiving father. (KJV Luke 15:11-20)
Many of us are like the prodigal son, confusedly meandering through life as we choose shady paths and make unwise decisions. Some of our choices provide for us valuable life experiences. But often, our foolish choices only bring sorrow and regret to ourselves and our families.
Stanley Ellis, a religious leader, says, "We see so many in the world today living in confusion or, worse, wandering in forbidden paths and suffering unnecessarily the consequences of poor choices ..."
Fortunately, there is a clear and simple path to follow as we make our way through life. Jesus Christ has shown us the correct way to live. He has provided for us clear commandments and doctrines. His teachings aren't meant to hinder or restrict us, but rather to help us live well and be happy.
Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life." (KJV John 14:6)
How do Jesus's teachings show us the right way to live our lives?
Jesus taught us to love and serve one another
From his teachings in the Bible we learn to honor our parents and love our children. We learn to cling to our spouses. Helping people in need and visiting and assisting the sick and elderly are other things Jesus taught. In turn, we can teach our children to develop empathy for others. We can also teach them to honor their parents and respect and serve other people.
Jesus taught chastity before marriage and fidelity during marriage
"The Lord has His way, or the way, to love. Those of the world say that what really matters is that two people love each other ... He teaches us more: that there is an authorized way and time to express that love," says Ellis. Reserving sex for marriage and staying true to our spouses prevents the heartache and complications associated with sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, diminished trust and broken families.
Jesus taught us how to raise children
During his life on earth Jesus was very compassionate with children. He defended them and, by his example, taught us to be patient and loving toward children. Parents have the obligation to teach their children right and wrong. Ellis reminds us that, "what happens inside the home is far more important than what our children encounter outside."
Jesus taught us to pray
Jesus's disciples often witnessed him praying. We are taught to pray so that we can draw nearer to God. Whether we want to give thanks, need help with a certain situation or just comfort after a bad day, we can turn to God in prayer. "Our Heavenly Father knows us, loves us, and wants to help. He knows best how to help. We are not spiritual orphans!" says Ellis.
He taught self-control
Jesus commanded us to refrain from lying and stealing. He taught that we shouldn't be idle and that we should be engaged in good works. Christ also warned against coveting material things and other people's spouses. When we're obedient to his commandments and we temper our appetites and passions, we grow spiritually. We feel peace in doing what is right.
As we consider the example of Jesus Christ, there are dozens more teachings we could add to this list. None of us go through life without committing errors and falling into shady paths. But like the prodigal son, Jesus welcomes us back when we falter. We can repent and be forgiven for our mistakes. As we follow his example and try to live his way, we remember Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."