This is based on the parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32
While I think the story of the prodigal son is very important, what I find quite confronting, and uncomfortable, is the way that the older son reacted. And the reason for this is because as much as I see myself in the prodigal son’s journey of redemption, I also recognise vices of myself in the older son’s attitude.
“But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed him the fatted calf.”
This verse exposes the older brother as knowing all along what his younger brother was up to in the world. He knew exactly the trouble his younger brother was adhereing himself to, and he did nothing. He didn’t try and reach out to him, he didn’t check on him to see if he was ok, he just continued working in the field.
As Christians in the church, we often hear of our brothers and sisters who have since left, get into trouble, and yet we do nothing. We think to ourselves “well, they deserve it because of their actions.”
But God says that it’s not up to us to decide what they deserve, that’s up to Him. All that we are required to do is treat them the same way that God treats us, with love, compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. As Christians, this is our duty.
The older son takes great offence because he feels he has been wronged, as his sinful younger brother is receiving a royal welcome.
And what he perceives as special treatment, the father merely sees it as an act of unconditional love.
The prodigal son had sought happiness in the forgetfulness of his father, and he found it not, he realised this, and humbly, he came back. He rediscovered that happiness and love abounded with his father and in his courts.
The older son who had the privilege to abide his whole life in the presence of his father, saw his life as a burden. He took his blessing for granted and it no longer pleased him to be with his father – when it was all that the prodigal son wanted.
And he answering said to his father “Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.”
The prodigal son saw his father’s richness in love to be granted only through forgiveness and mercy, whilst his older brother saw his father’s richness to be earned through works.
He was not working for his father out of love, but from hope of reward. But the father’s riches is not a wage, it is a gift.
Sometimes we can be so caught up in the destination goal, that we fail to realise the importance of the journey. For us, Heaven is the ultimate goal. It’s where we’ll see Jesus face to face, and commune with our Heavenly Father, and live in the abundance of His riches, and where the streets will be gold. But is it possible to be so focussed on the goal, that we fail to realise the importance of our life on earth? That God made us for a reason, and that He is with us here too. But if we get busy doing works that will get us into Heaven, we will miss out on the blessing of knowing Jesus now, in our lives everyday. We can enjoy His companionship today
E. G. White, COL 211.2
Though you will not join in the greeting to the lost, the joy will go on, the restored one will have his place by the Father’s side and in the Father’s work. He that is forgiven much, the same loves much. But you will be in the darkness without. For “he that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8).