Luke 15 – The Prodigal Son – It’s not fair

We received this email from someone who watched Perry’s Message from this past Sunday and shared their thoughts with us:

“I just watched the service (may, 18th), It sucked the older son did work in his fathers field and was told that he should be happy that his brother is back.”

Here are my thoughts on this subject and my response back:

Thanks so much for your email.  You are right that from a human perspective it doesn’t seem fair that the younger son received the love and mercy of the father when the older son was the one who was working hard the whole time.  I believe though that this is the exact point that Jesus was making for us.  Life is not fair. God’s mercy in love are not given because we deserve it.  If life were fair we would never receive God’s mercy. Sometimes we work hard and do the right thing and we feel like we deserve things more than others, but still it seems that they are blessed in ways that we aren’t.  But I believe that one of the main points of this parable is that the older son was lost too.  He did many things for his father and they were good things, but, because he was not focused on what the father was focused on, he could not celebrate what the father celebrated and be joyful when someone other than himself was blessed.

A lot of people work hard, and do the right thing, and feel that God owes them something for this.  What the older son needed to realize, and what I need to realize many times as well, is that we have the privilege of being in a relationship with our Father and I shouldn’t get so task focused that I lose focus on the things He is focused on.  My  relationship with God is not about what I do for Him, it is about what He has done for me.  We can do things for Him all day and get so focused on our task that we never really spend time with Him.  At the end of the day, the truth of this life is that it is not about me.  It is about God.  Life is not all about what we do, it is about what Jesus has already done for us.  As believer’s we shouldn’t “work” at things for God with the mentality that God owes me and has to bless me because I do this.  We should “work” at things for God because we are passionately in love with Him, and if He directs us to do something, we do it out of a response of love, not out of obligation.

I think the thing that we all have to realize about the truth in this story is that the Father’s love and mercy for his sons had nothing to do with their performance and everything to do with his character and love for his children.  I am so glad that God’s love for me is not based on my performance, but on His nature.  As the church, we need to constantly realize that we can very easily slip into that “older brother mentality.”  God is focused on lost people and we should be too.  We should always be ready to reflect to everyone around us the love and mercy of God.  When we are focused on God and loving Him in everything we say and do, then we too will truly be able to rejoice when someone else gets to experience the love, mercy, and blessing of God that they didn’t deserve.

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