Wednesday, February 24, 2010
The Prodigal Brother
Luke 15:11-32 Was my Lenten devotional today. I thought it was very interesting how the prodigal's brother reacted to the scene. Let me see if I can set it up for you....I will at least try.
Working all his life on his dad's farm. Tending to the cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, etc. Tending to the land. taking care of the wheat fields, and many other crops. Day in, day out, year in, year out, making sure that everything got done. Directing the servants, being the second in command right under dear old dad. If dad said to do this, he did that, if dad said do that, he did that. Each year bringing the harvest, selling the excess, slaughtering the animals as needed and selling others off.
You know, what he is doing, right? He is being the obedient son. Doing everything that his father asks. He is taking care of the farm and doing all the stuff that needs to be done. Can you picture it? He is a hard working son. I mean that this man has muscles all over. He has respect from the hired servants too. He does what needs to be done. He gets dirty and does the work. He does not just manage, he does and keeps doing.
Now his brother, we know nothing about, other than that he wants his inheritance and to take off. So we can postulate that he is a bit lazy, cares only about himself and just wants to go out and have a good time. He is also impatient, since he does not want to wait for his father to die. Also had no respect for his father to ask that he receive his portion now.
So we have the younger son and the older son. One who wants to take off and have a good time and the other who wants to keep working, knowing full well he will be rewarded later on. Or at least he is planning on it. Now enters the Prodigal son. He has been away squandering the money and just doing whatever he wants to. The money is gone and famine enters the picture. Now he is heading home, knowing full well what is waiting for him if he can grovel to his father and say take me back as a servant. The whole time he was gone the other "good" son was still working. Still tending the farm.
So what would you do? Would you be forgiving and welcome your brother or sister back? Wouldn't you act the same way? I am sure that I would. I would be upset and a bit outraged maybe, or at least a bit put out. How would you handle it? I would say the same things. I would say "Hey, what about me Dad?", "What about all the work I have done for you? What about all the time I spent here not complaining, just doing my job. Why does he get special treatment, when he did wrong and wasted your money? Here I am not asking for anything, just doing my job. And what do I get out of it? A pat on the back, No! A dinner in my honor, No! Nothing that says thanks son for all the hard work."
Does that sound familiar? I know it does to me. I am an only child, but that does not mean that I do not have the same thoughts in regards to other people that I see getting away with things and being rewarded for doing wrong. That is where forgiveness comes in. The father forgave the prodigal son and then tried to reconcile with the older brother to see what was the matter. The father had compassion and mercy all around. And did the brother say, what I did? Of course he did. He was so bent out of shape you could have used him as a pretzel. He even refused to have a good time with the family and enter the house.
The father had to track him down and find out what was bothering him. He showed compassion, mercy and forgiveness to both sons. He welcomed back the prodigal son and tried to reconcile with the brother. The father did everything right. Everything he should have done. He forgave both sons one for his actions and the other for his attitude. Would we have done the same? Do we ever forgive those who come back to the flock? Without suspicion? Do we treat them like a possible wolf in sheep's clothing? I think we do. I think we don't trust people that fall away and come back. I think we have a hard time when someone we know had been doing wrong most of their life and then turn around. We are more forgiving of gradual changes then we are of sudden changes. We are also less suspicious. It is part of human nature. Why? Because we are not GOD. We don't know the thoughts and intents of the heart. We are a suspicious breed, because we have been deceived and trust is something you earn now, instead of freely given.
We ask people to prove to us we are not going to do wrong. If we could see like GOD sees then we could easily trust people and forgive them more quickly. We would not be so suspicious. I believe we can strive toward that goal. We can be a little more trusting and definitely more forgiving. It may not be an easy step, but we need to continually give people the benefit of the doubt. It is up the GOD if they deserve forgiveness. We can only offer our forgiveness and move on, without a grudge. Knowing that they might do wrong again. But so do we. Each and everyday we do something we shouldn't.
So do we react like the brother and hold a grudge, pout and have a pity party, or do we react like the father and say "Welcome home, we missed you." How you react is up to you. How I react is up to me. Let us strive to make the right decision. Let us react with compassion, mercy and forgiveness.