“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!’" (Luke 15:28-30 NASB)
In many instances, when we read the story of the Prodigal Son, we focus on everything relative to the younger, wayward son. But we often miss the message found in the elder brother's life. I won't recall the entire story (you can read that on your own), but I do want to take a little time to focus on the passage above. Here, we see the elder brother's anger toward his father. He is undoubtedly enraged with his father. And why? Because of his father's gracious actions toward the younger son. You would think that this would be a celebratory time for them all, but the elder brother was so caught up in his own self-righteousness that he failed to see and accept the concepts of grace, love and mercy exhibited by his father.
And is this not like many of us today??? We're so caught up in our own ill-perceived righteousness that we miss out on opportunities to extend and receive grace, love, and mercy. We're too busy making attempts to protect our own "assets" and we fail to realize that everything we have, God has entrusted us to have it. We're merely stewards. Perhaps, I could go on, but I'm sure you are beginning to see the picture here. So the message today is simple: Beware of the "Elder Brother Syndrome" and its damaging effects. Don't be Pharisaical in your ways. Don't forget how wonderfully kind, merciful and tolerant God has been with those He loves. Your perceived righteousness doesn't mean a thing and it is certainly not capable of saving you from eternal damnation. Only the righteousness of the Lord can save you. Therefore, let us all humble ourselves and repent from our sinful ways. Let us rejoice and glorify the Lord for all that He has done! These two brothers certainly had something in common: They both needed their father's love, grace, and mercy. Unfortunately, one came to that realization and the other did not.
Prayer: Father, help us to understand and see the beauty in your unmerited grace and mercy. Let us not be so consumed with attempting to establish our own righteousness that we fail to recognize and cherish Christ and the righteousness that He has secured for all who believe. Soften the hard hearts on today. Bring the wayward to repentance, Father. Grip our hearts with your grace and let us live in a way that brings glory to You and only You. Thank You for salvation. Thank You for grace. Thank You for mercy! Please continue to turn our hearts toward you, In Jesus Christ's name we pray, Amen.