Sunday, November 26, 2017

The "Unprodigal" Son

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)
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 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. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

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.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


“But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:40-42‬ ‭(ESV)‬‬

Service is an overflow of God's love for us.
We should not take pride in it.
We should not make it our god.
We should not be anxious or troubled about it.

Think about the last time you served whether in ministry or at home or anywhere else. What compelled you to serve? Is it for selfish gain or is it for selfless love? 

In ministry, we should not feel comfortable but we should not be anxious about it. 
We should ask: "What more can I do?" Rather than: "What do people say I do?"

Volunteers are not perfect, but they are loved by a perfect God.
This compels us to serve.

If you don't have a relationship with Jesus, sit down at His feet like Mary did and listen to Him first. Don't be distracted by the things that you think needs to be done from the one thing you should be doing: enjoying God's presence in your life.

How then shall we serve?
Being part of a ministry is a privilege. It's always an honor to honor God through the time, skills, resources and passion He has given and is continually giving to us. 
By serving others, we share the love God has poured in our lives. Without the understanding of that love, we cannot truly serve confidently with a heart.
Every ministry we have has a role not just in the sunday or youth services, but it is an avenue where people with the same passion come together and grow the talents God has deposited in us. 

Going back to Martha, she indeed has the skill to serve tables as she may have been doing it for several times already. She's also used to having her sister help her in serving. Yet this time was different because she was doing it "alone". Do we welcome God to help us as we serve? When we feel that we are doing it alone, our heart is not united with the body anymore.
Martha was the one who welcomed Jesus in her home.
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:38‬ ‭(ESV)‬‬

Why would Martha welcome Jesus in her home?
-to serve him?
-to get to know him?
-to listen to his teaching?

Jesus knew that Martha was anxious and worried. As a believer, she may have seen how tiring it is for Jesus to do His ministry in the places he goes to and she just wants to serve Jesus to ease the pain He might be feeling. Or maybe Martha wanted to serve Jesus because He was a single man and she was a single woman (this I am not sure but it entered my mind). She may be a known hospitable person and the pressure of that identity caused her to worry about not serving the best hospitality without the help of her sister.
For sure she had good intentions but Jesus was not after her service but her heart. Jesus might have welcomed the invitation to be at her home because He had a message He wanted to say yet Martha was not willing to listen. Jesus knew Martha and He wanted to give a lesson of what should have been prioritized at that moment.
Jesus deserved the best hospitality we can ever offer, but all our "best" is rubbish in His eyes if our hearts are not honoring His presence.

The next time we serve God, are we there fully or are we there half-heartedly?