A Devotional Thought
by Linda and Phil Sommerville
And now for the rest of the story.
Yesterday we shared the story of the Prodigal Son. Maybe you connected in some way this memorable story told by Jesus. But we didn't finish the story. There's one more character to introduce--the older brother.
While the party was going on inside, he stayed outside shooting hoops in the driveway. While the party goers celebrated by filling themselves with delicious food, the older brother chewed on his jealous anger.
"After bitter arguing, dad finally gave in and took out a loan so 'my brother' could take his inheritance early."
"He rejected us and left. Didn't tell us where he was going. Never heard from him again. Mom and dad have suffered for years from that rejection."
"Suddenly he shows up out of the blue and the money is gone! What did he do with all that money? Wasted it, that's what! Well, too bad. He had his money. He made his choices. Now he has to deal with the consequences."
"I have stayed home. I have been responsible. I have remained working in the family business. I haven't rejected my parents, hurt my parents or wasted their money and life's work. I have been the good son."
"But they celebrate him! He get's a party! I've never gotten a party like that and I've done everything right. I've been the GOOD SON!"
"This is WRONG!!!"
By now, he is no longer shooting baskets. He's throwing the ball against the garage door. Bang, bang, bang.
The father comes out to see what is the matter. Why is he not joining the celebration over his own brother's return? The son goes through his litany of reasons. Angry at his brother. Angry at his treatment. Angry at his father.
“My son," the father said, "you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." Luke 15:31-32
I sympathize with the old brother. I am an oldest brother myself. I understand the anger. Where is the fairness? Where is the justice? The older brother had done everything right. He was faithful, loyal, obeyed and respected his parents, worked hard, saved wisely. Yet the reprobate gets the party!
The older brother had done everything right except for one thing.
He had faithfully obeyed and done everything by the book, yet missed the things most important of all.
He failed to share the Father's heart. He did not have the Father's love.
We can get so caught up in doing everything by the book, so caught up in being "good," that we start to dislike the ones who aren't putting in the same effort. We shake our heads and our fingers at those who reject our Father, not realizing that in doing so we are failing to share our Father's heart.
If you see signs of the older brother in you, this is a cautionary tale. Confess and share the heart of our Heavenly Father who pulls up his robes and runs towards those who turn to Him, who rejoices over every person who was "dead and is alive again, was lost and is found." Let us share that heart.