The Prodigal, the Elder Brother, and Me

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  • May 05, 2014

The following is a post by Princy Mathew, a member of SMR and of the Willow Grove GCM.

You know that parable about the prodigal son in Luke 15?  Sure you do, the younger son asks for his share of inheritance from his father and takes the money, moves away, squanders it on prostitutes and parties and when the money runs out, ends up working for someone else taking care of pigs and finds himself starving for food.  He wishes then to be able to go back to his dad since his dad’s servants have food to spare and at this point, he is willing to even eat whatever is on the menu for the pigs.

When he “comes to his senses”, he is ready to ask for forgiveness and repent of his foolishness; he is prepared to ask if he could be treated as one of his dad’s servants, instead of a son.  He recognizes that he has messed up horribly.  So he walks towards his dad’s house—and you know the story, his father sees his younger son walking towards him from far away and runs to him, hugs him, and calls out for the best robe, ring, and slippers to be put on this dear son.  And that’s not all, his dad calls for the fattened calf to be cooked in honor of his son’s safe return.

There is also an elder son in this story, who has been faithful to his dad and now after seeing the celebration in honor of his younger brother, becomes jealous.  He is bitter and wonders aloud as to why his dad never called for a cow to be cooked for lunch in his honor?

Sadly, if I had to pick one character to relate to, this would be my guy. Maybe you can relate too?  I usually say and do the right things for the most part, but at the heart of it all, it is done with a self-centered focus.  This elder brother was being faithful, but he was being faithful because he was waiting for his reward at the end, not because he was joyfully serving his father.

Friends, where was his heart?

This is hard for me too—I lose sight of who I am serving and get distracted with the details of the work being done and what happens then?  The joy of giving my time and energy becomes a burden, rather than a privilege, BUT isn’t God just amazing in how He regards us?  He does not leave us in this crummy place of self-pity and ‘woe-is-me’ place! God is like the father in this story.  The father’s response is, “My son, 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.”

What an incredible response!  How counter-intuitive and counter-cultural!  Instead of rubbing the younger son’s mistakes in his face and shaming him, this amazing father shows such grace by welcoming him,  adorning him with riches and comforts and forgiveness. And when the elder son speaks his ugly heart, the father reiterates his love for his older son.

This is what our Heavenly father does for us; He sees our messes, but doesn’t let us stew in it.  When we “come to our senses”, we ask for forgiveness and repent; He takes us out of that horrible place and sets us right next to Him as His precious son and daughter.

Photo Credit: PaulAnn

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About Ajay Thomas

Ajay lives in Philadelphia with his wife Shainu and their kids Hannah and Micah. He is responsible for preaching and vision as a pastor at Seven Mile Road.

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