What About Me?
Verse 29 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.”
Our saga reaches its end with another visit with the older brother.
We find him out in the field. This is important because it shows that he continued serving after gaining his inheritance. He continued in the family business and even treated the father as the owner of the spread. It is obvious that he hasn’t forgotten his younger brother or what he did. He may have even been rehashing those events daily as he worked the family fields. It is also obvious by his reaction to the news that his brother is home, that he has become very bitter over the whole situation. And who could blame him! It may very well be that he never expected to see his brother again and with every season of hard work that he put in, it reminded him how he was now the only son. Until today.
Did you notice that the brother doesn’t ask the dad why there was a party going on? He asks a servant for the scoop. He then came to the point of blowing his top and reused to go in to the party. So his father came out to him. Once again the father is full of hope. He has a hope that his boys will have a brotherly relationship. But the older brother reveals his heart. He wasn’t still on the family land because he loved his dad and wants to be close to him, he is there to prove he is the better brother. He points out all the things that he has done over the years and what he felt the father had slighted him in. He then continues by pointing out how the younger brother had failed being a good son and then makes a big deal out of the party being thrown inside.
This is the character in the story that most of us should relate with, whether we want to admit it or not. He worked but not out of love, out of obligation. He thought his works should put him in the best standing with his father. He became angry when someone who had not done the work was the one that the father was happy about. He became bitter and hard-hearted, missing the things the father truly wanted.
It is easy to think we can work to please the Father, by serving in the church and in essence becoming spiritual workaholics. But the Father only wants loving devotion. Service in the name of love and devotion instead of obligation. We can get bitter when we see people come to church that we don’t think are “good enough” to be connected with God. And like the older son, we often have our own interests in mind instead of God’s interests.
Making It Personal
Do you have an “older brother” attitude towards someone you know? Are you a workaholic in the service of the Father, but missing the loving aspect of serving Him? What lesson do you most need to take away from this parable?
Making It Personal Kids
Do you find it hard to love your brother or sister? Do you love them like Jesus would want you too? Do you love other kids at church like Jesus would want you to? What is something you could do to help Jesus by helping someone else?
Father, thank You for being so forgiving when we try to make the Gospel about our ways instead of Yours. Please continue being patient with us and being willing to teach us all we need to know to glorify You. In Jesus’ name, amen.