Over the lastfew days we have been looking at what has been called the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I believe the main point of this story is to show us what God is really like; He not some impersonal tyrant who is too busy to care about you. He is a loving Heavenly Father who has numbered the hairs on your head (Mathew 10:30 / Luke 12:7). He will forgive you when you return to Him. Today, as we look at the older brother, we learn another important lesson.
We read following on from Luke 15:25, that the older brother heard music and dance and came to see what was happening. The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 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. But this son of yours [he’s so mad he can’t even call him “my brother”] who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” “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.”
The older brother represents many religious folks here today who haven’t sinned against God by running off and going wild, but when it comes to really celebrating what God is doing in the lives of others, they don’t rejoice. It should never be about self.
We can find three characteristics of this older brother which we don’t want to find in our own lives.
- – An angry spirit of grumbling (v28) – jealous when a church starts paying attention to new people, don’t be one of those who are too busy grumbling to praise God and see how He is working
- – An inflated sense of goodness – (v29) – He exaggerated his own goodness and he exaggerated his brother’s wickedness. It’s easy for you to look at people whose sins are open and vulgar and think we are so much better than them. There are the sins of jealousy, pride, anger, and resentment that are much easier to hide. We must always remember that to God sin is sin. Let’s remember where He has rescued us from.
- – A faulty understanding of grace (25-29) – Anytime you start talking about what you deserve you leave the realm of grace and get into the area of human performance. Matthew 20:9-15 which is another parable we will consider soon is an example of this.
God’s grace is available to anyone who comes to Him in repentance. Remember, the thief on the cross? He was saved just minutes before he died, but yet Jesus promised him he would be in paradise with Him–that’s grace.