The Older Son
Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Editor
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” – Matthew 6:20
Most Christians have heard the story of the Prodigal Son. For those of us who grew up in the Church, the story probably conjures up memories of Sunday school, when the teacher would reenact the parable on one of those crazy felt boards. The Prodigal Son really is a perfect description of God’s relationship with us, his children. I don’t know about you, but I’ve done more than enough stupid stuff in my life to qualify as a prodigal. Lately though, I’ve found myself relating more and more to the older son in the story, the one most people tend to forget about.
"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' "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 when this son of yours 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.' " – Luke 15: 25-32
It’s almost unsettling how easily we Christians can become the Older Son. Maybe you’re having a bad month, or maybe it seems like someone else is getting all the rewards you desire. In those moments it’s so tempting to turn on God and yell, “I’ve followed all the rules. I’ve done everything right! Would it kill you to throw me a bone once in a while?” But God isn’t Santa Claus; he doesn’t keep a list of whose good and bad then parcel things out accordingly.
For all his mistakes, the younger brother understood that anything he got from his Father would be out of grace, and for all his good work, the older brother let his anger blind him to the many blessings he already had. A friend of mine once told me, “Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to dance happily in bad situations” and it’s true. Being a Christian means that we are saved by Christ through grace, and good times or bad, his blessings are still there even if we don’t see them.
Intersecting Faith and Life: Take a moment to count your blessings.
>Luke 15: 1-7