The Other Prodigal Son
Most of us have heard the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. But what seems to be passed over is that the story isn’t just about the son that left, wandered, squandered, pondered, and returned to the open arms of his forgiving father…take a look at verses that conclude the story (Luke 15:25-32):
25″Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.
26″And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be.
27″And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’
28″But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.
29″But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;
30but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’
31″And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.
32’But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.'”
To his credit, the “good” son had served his father all the while…this much is true. But he misses the mark on a few key issues. That anger was his first emotion when hearing of his brother’s return is a good signal that while he had served his father all this time, his heart was not in it. He had served his father, but likely not as faithfully as he believed. Further, the offenses he brings up in verses 29 and 30 are not his offenses–his inheritance was not affected by the brother’s squandering.
I think that, as Christians, we can fall into the trap of being that other brother, serving God–sometimes without serving with our heart–and often missing the point. We see new believers and how their lives change and somehow feel slighted instead of celebrating with them. We turn it into an “us vs. them” thing rather than joining in with them. We take note of their past faults (without..ahem…looking at our own) instead of their transformation. We criticize in areas that aren’t ours to judge, but don’t check our own egos and attitudes at the door.
The thing is, our inheritance has not been affected by them. Our inheritance is ours. But when we fail to celebrate with others, we miss seeing more of the amazing attributes of the Father.
Most of us have heard the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. But what seems to be passed over is that the story isn’t just about the son that left, wandered, squandered, pondered, and returned to the open arms of his forgiving father…take a look at verses that conclude the story (Luke 15:25-32):…