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“. . . His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.” Luke 15:28-29
The older brother’s focus was on himself, and as a result, there is no joy in his brother’s arrival home. He is so consumed with issues of justice and equality that he fails to see the value of his brother’s repentance and return. He fails to realize that anyone who claims to be in the light, but hates his brother, is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother, lives in the light.
The older brother allows anger to take root in his heart to the point that he is unable to show compassion towards his brother, and, for that matter, he is unable to forgive the perceived sin of his father against him. He prefers to nurse his anger, rather than enjoy fellowship with his father, brother and the community. He chooses suffering and isolation over restoration and reconciliation. He sees his brother’s return as a threat to his own inheritance.
How did the older brother become so rigid, so uncaring? Maybe he was taken for granted because he stayed home. Maybe he had grown resentful of his life of routine. There was always a spark and glitter to the younger brother, the elder always ended up in the shadows. Resentment had grown in him so deep, that even he did not understand the depths. In the unredeemed art of his nature, he was jealous. He was religious, he believed, “it pays to be good” and when it didn’t, he exploded.
The wise father seeks to bring restoration by pointing out that all he has is, and has always been, available for the asking to his obedient son. The older son never utilized the blessings at his disposal.
Neither our personal badness, nor our personal goodness, determines the love of the Father towards us, but only His vitalizing grace and saving love.
Father, help me to stay in relationship with You and remember You make all things possible.