In the parable of the Prodigal son, there are three characters: The good father, the older son, and the younger ‘prodigal’ son (Luke 15:11-32). We often focus our attention on the return of the younger son and the father‘s loving response, but for the sake of us who are in an active relationship with God, we are going to look at the older son, for his story is just as important.
“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'” Luke 15:25-32
The older son was out working the father’s fields when the younger son returned. The first he got to hear of it was the sound of a joyful celebration.
When he realised what the party was in aid of, he became angry, because it seemed so unfair. Why? Because he had lived his whole life in his father’s house with the mindset of a servant rather than a son.
With the mindset of a servant, pleasure and celebration in the re-establishing of relationship seems so unfair, because a servant has to earn all he receives.
His conversation with his father is revealing. He won’t come into the party because he is offended by the younger son‘s actions and the fathers response to his repentant return.
“All these years I have been serving you…” is his reply to the father’s plea for him to join the party. “I have never broken the rules…” “Never have you even given me a goat to eat with my friends… but you give him the fatted calf after he wasted all your money, just because he came home!”
The fathers reply: “You are always with me, and all that I have is yours!” The father tells him you also have a relationship, and you also have an inheritance.
For all those years he had served his father but his father wanted a relationship.
With the mindset of a servant, enjoying his inheritance without guilt was impossible. Why? Because it is presumptuous to simply take what you want and use it for your own design. If you live simply seeing your father as your master, you live without the confidence to enjoy any part of your inheritance unless it is expressly given.
The older son was still under slavery rather than grace. All those years he had been the recipient of half of all the father had, just as the younger son. But he was not presumptuous with the father’s grace. In fact, he had never even taken one goat, because he only thought the father wanted a servant, but the father wanted a son.
Both sons were called into relationship. One abandoned that relationship. The other never valued himself beyond the status of a servant and so never entered in to the relationship which was available to him. His relationship was entirely based on his performance.
Both sons received an inheritance (Luke 15:12). Both sons wasted their inheritance. One squandered it. The other never believed in the relationship he had with his father enough to even touch it. He never saw himself beyond the status of a servant.
When we are born again, we are born in to our Father’s family. We are now sons and daughters of Father God. Our Father does not want servants, he wants children! Servants get a wage. Children get unrivalled access to the father and an inheritance. One is works, the other is grace. Children have a life, servants have a job.
Have you squandered that inheritance and abandoned your relationship with Father God? He waits with open arms for your return. Not to punish you, but to celebrate and restore.
Has your life with God seemed like that of His servant so far? He wants to change that. He wants a relationship with you. He wants to lavish you with love. He wants you to live with the benefits of your inheritance.
How do you change? It starts by simply asking the Father, “Teach me how to be your child.” Then he will take you by the hand and lead you into the party.
I would love to hear your testimonies of encountering the Father heart of God. Please leave a comment below.
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