Many of us are familiar with the biblical story of the prodigal son. A young man takes his inheritance, leaves his father’s home and eventually squanders his wealth. Poor, hungry and alone he eventually comes to his senses and returns to his father’s home where he is welcomed and celebrated.
A part of the story that doesn’t often get as much attention is the older brother’s response to his sibling’s return. The older brother’s response to his younger brother’s homecoming is one filled with bitterness and comparison. He protests to his Father that the young son deserves punishment for his prior actions and points out his faithful personal service to his Father.
The funny thing is I agree with the older brother. When you do good, good things are supposed to come to you right? If you do foolish things then you deserve those consequences…right?
Let me give you some background. I am somewhat of a late bloomer. I grew up pretty sheltered in life. I never really had a desire to rebel from authority; I figured if you do right, good things would come to you. But after a time I looked around and noticed that many blessings were also coming to people who weren’t necessarily doing the right thing. I saw people prospering, getting married and getting all the blessings that I prayed for that didn’t really give much care to what God thought about their life. These were not necessarily wicked people; just people who I guess you would say for lack of a better expression were living a “rebellious” life style. And they were prospering.
I think over a period of time I became somewhat bitter. I felt I deserved certain blessings from God because I was trying to live a life that honored and pleased him. I had stopped dating the way the world encourages, paid my tithes, served others, tried not to cuss, guarded my eyes and on and on. I didn’t resent doing any of this stuff, I figured it was for my own good, but I also figured I deserved answers to my prayers because of it too.
In my eyes I had done everything right. I sacrificed a lot of fun deciding not to participate in things that were not that moral. I had given up childish ways and surrendered my will and preferences to God. Didn’t I deserve a reward? I thought so.
I was the bitter older brother.
But then I learned about grace. And how it makes us all equal to one another. Grace means God loves us all equally. It was hard to grasp at first. The person who never thanks God for anything gets as much love as me who has a close relationship with God. Doesn’t seem fair.
It’s not. Grace isn’t about what’s fair, it isn’t about what we deserve it’s about who God is.
I’m not perfect, I never claim to be, but I know as good as I am on my own I don’t deserve what God does for me daily.
And the more I thought about it I didn’t really want to be the prodigal son, I didn’t want to go off and do things my way. Because the times I had I messed a lot of stuff up thinking I knew everything. Plus I kind of like doing the right thing as cheesy as it sounds. But if I’m honest I want to do some of the things that pop culture celebrates. There’s just something about doing what feels good, that well…feels good!!
I can serve God my whole life and never get the spouse I’m hoping for, the kids I dream of or some of the other blessings I want. God doesn’t owe me these things. We have to get rid of this entitlement mentality.
The truth is the older brother was just as far from God’s love as the younger one was. The older son was the rebel who never left home. He stayed home serving his father, doing the right thing, but in his heart, I believe he resented it.
If you can identify with any of the emotions I felt in your walk with God I encourage you to ask yourself the following question. A question I had to answer myself.
“Will I serve God from a willing heart even if He doesn’t answer my prayers in the way I want Him to?”
There is no right or wrong answer here; you can only make the choice that’s true for you in your heart.
I encourage you to love and serve from a place of freedom. 🙂
Be blessed my loves,