Most people are familiar with the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15. But I want to give focus to the other son, or what I call the “unprodigal son”.
Luke 15:25-32 (ESV)
If I were to describe this son, he was self-righteous, selfish, ungrateful and yet have an obedient and a servant heart. He was bitter at the happiness not just of his brother but also of his father. He had all the reason to rejoice, yet what he sees are things he did not receive.
He could have asked. But his younger brother did not even ask yet things were given to him. It’s not about the fattened calf or the ring or the other things that the “prodigal” son received, it’s actually the attention of the father. Or it might have been the things. A bitter heart causes us to disregard even the things that we already have. Jealousy will creep in like a dangerous disease.
The father was so generous to get out of his way to go out to his eldest son, the son who had been physically been with him all this time. The eldest son was there but his heart was not.
How many times have we served in church or do ministry but our heart is not there?
This message is primarily for those who are Christians and have forgotten the joy of just being there in the presence of God and His people. If you are in that season of giving up, being bitter or plainly unjoyful, then it’s time to check our hearts and see where it is.
I don’t know what happened to that elder brother, but if I were him, I would have been reminded about my identity that I am a son and not a servant. My father’s favour does not lie on the sacrifices I make, but in the identity that he had already given me. I would not be bitter towards him nor towards the people he values. As I learn to love the person who taught me how to love, I would eventually see others the way he sees them and love them as well.