Thursday, May 23, 2013

Attitude: Brother of the Prodigal

Most of us are familiar with the story of the Prodigal son in Luke chapter 15.  As this story came up in a recent discussion, I have been thinking about the attitude of the Father vs. the attitude of the brother. The Prodigal son left the goodness and safety of his father's house and wasted his substance with riotous living. Sadly, he goes from having it all to having nothing, and desiring to eat the food of pigs because he was so hungry.  When he finally decided to make the long trek back to his father's house, his father didn't wait for him to come knock on the door; But when his father saw him a long way off, he had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. His father then told his servants, "Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."
 This is a beautiful illustration of God's love and mercy. If you have strayed from God, wasted your substance, and find yourself in the lowest point of life, He is still willing and ready to run towards you with compassion if you will but begin to make your way back to His house. The love and mercy of God is overwhelming.  So while we see the love and compassion of the father, we see the selfish anger of the brother in verses 28-30: "And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore his father came out, and intreated him. And he answering to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed him the fatted calf."

Instead of being happy that his brother had returned to the safety of their father's house, he was jealous. The father then replies to the jealous brother, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."

The brother had access to all these things in his father's house, but took them for granted and failed to realize that he could have and enjoy them at any time. We in the church have the goodness and mercy and blessings of God all the time - we are safe in the Father's house. Let's not take for granted the wonderful privileges and blessings that are at our fingertips. Let's also not be jealous when a lost brother or sister finds their way back to the house of God and receives the welcome and blessings of God.

What is your attitude when a backslider comes back to God? Do you welcome them? Do you show them the same mercy and compassion that the Father is showing them? Can you rejoice with them, or are you jealous? Our attitude should be that of the Father's; an attitude of love, compassion, and forgiveness.

 The bottom line is that we must all be saved.


jen lord said...

aaaaaaamen :)

Anonymous said...

Interesting case study: the story of the prodigal son. There's much to observe with the description of it all. The father falling on his son's neck. The embrace. The much celebration and royal welcome. The brother's response and rejection of the prodigal. As a prodigal, coming home, some were humble and nice, others hadn't changed. I don't expect a welcome, from people. My hope was in the mercy of the Father, knowing how He is. The prodigal has to live with the consequences of his folly. He has enough pain, loss, guilt, and regrets that he will have to live through as a result of the consequence of his sin. The passage that gives me much hope is: Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord , because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness. Then she that is mine enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is the Lord thy God? mine eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets. (Micah 7:8-10 KJV)
Truly I am not worthy to be called His son. It's a priveledge to serve Him. As is true for the prodigal or not. The son that did not leave, had his reward, but his attitude makes me wonder if he realized how much he had in his fathers house.
We know from the story that the father never left the house. It seems however that he was ever observing, to see if and when his lost dead son would return. I wonder if the brother could have checked on the prodigal. As I deal with my feelings, sometimes it is hard to feel mercy and compassion when I see prodigals leave and carry on in pride and folly, so blinded and wise in their own conceit. I think of my Father and how, in His heart, the prodigal is still his son, howbeit a lost and dead son. If the prodigal is my Fathers son, then the prodigal is my brother and I must love him and reach out to him as such. I am my brothers keeper. It does not make me feel good when my brother or sister leaves.

Jennifer Connell said...

Thank you for your comment!