This month we are talking about “connections”—relationships from the Bible. Today I want to take a look at the relationship between the Prodigal Son’s older brother (let’s call him BOB—Big Older Brother) and his father. In Luke 15, after the Prodigal Son returned home, broken and repentant, the Father embraced him and celebrated his return with so much joy! When old Bob found out he:
“…was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
“His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours…’” (Luke 15:28-31 NLT)
Oh my! How sad that he didn’t even care that his brother was home safely! How heartbreaking that Bob was missing out on the love of his father–not because his father wasn’t there for him or because he was unfair or unloved. No, sadly, it was because he looked at his father and their relationship completely from the wrong perspective. How do I know that? Well, look at his words: “All these years I’ve slaved for you”. Wow! Can you just hear the bitterness and resentment? Here he was all these years, doing the “right thing” and “obeying” every request from his father—in his mind, slaving away—but it was not from a heart of love and respect and it shows clearly here in his attitude.
His father’s response was “Look, dear son…everything I have is yours.” “Dear son”—not “slave”! Everything I have is YOURS. Every goat, every fattened calf, EVERYTHING! At any point Bob could have eaten the best of the land. It was all at his disposal, but because of his heart of unwillingness and resentful attitude towards his father, he was missing out. As a parent, I can just imagine the father’s heart was breaking because Bob thought of him as nothing more than his task master and because he was so self-righteous and yet so insecure as shown by his anger and jealous toward his younger brother.
Isaiah 1:19 AMP says that if “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.” Sure, the older brother was obedient, but he wasn’t so willing! His relationship with his father was not what it should have been, nor what it could have been. He was blinded by his self-righteous, poor, perfect-me, attitude! The father said “LOOK”! All that time, Bob seriously needed to open his eyes to what was there for him. The love of the father literally surrounded him, but he didn’t see it because he was so focused on himself and his tasks. He was so consumed with DOING, that he wasn’t BEING the son his father would have loved to embrace DAILY! Every day the son could have basked in the father’s love and embrace enjoying all the good things he had in his possession.
I don’t know about you, but I have to admit that I’ve often been the one to “do the right thing” but not for the right reasons. I’ve been the one to pride myself on how much I DO while forgetting who I AM. I’m sure there have been many times I’ve missed out on the joy and love of His presence and even the presence of those in my earthly relationships because I was too consumed with all I was DOING and not giving any thought to simply BEING His beloved child, her sister, his wife, her mother, his daughter, her friend, etc.
I believe there’s so much we can take away from this story about how we SEE our relationships with those we are around day in and day out. How much are we missing out on simply because we are looking to ourselves when we should be looking around us? How much are we missing out on because what we are doing is not coming from a heart of love towards those we are doing for?
Lord, please open our eyes and help us LOOK and see the riches that we have in the treasure of people You have put in our lives! Help us have hearts of love that cherish and celebrate those you have connected us to!
Featured image Allison Mims