May 5, 2023
- By Ed Powell
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"Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him." Luke 15:27-28
How difficult it is to understand the reaction of the elder brother on this joyous occasion, the return of the prodigal son. The outburst of anger, pride, resentment, jealousy, and discontent was the outward manifestation of what was inside the heart of the elder brother all the time. It simply took this occasion to bring it to the surface. How true is the Word, "The heart is deceitful above all things...who can know it" (Jeremiah 17:9). Unknowingly, we harbor attitudes and feelings within our heart. Look at the attitude and reaction of the older brother on this occasion and the disastrous consequences that resulted from his selfish judgment.
When invited by the father to join in the celebration, he refused. When they rejoiced in the prodigal's repentance, he boasted of his blameless and meritorious conduct. His self-centeredness was very evident. With anger, he proclaims that sufficient respect had not been given him. He rehearses with malicious exaggeration the misconduct of his brother. Because the feast was not in his honor, he found no pleasure in it. How sad, lonely, insecure, ungrateful, and discontented is one's life that is primarily concerned with its own selfish interests. Self-righteousness frequently is accompanied by a thousand evil tempers, personal conceit, a supercilious contempt of others, and a rooted aversion to grace and mercy as God's way of salvation.
It is a self-imposed bondage from which one will suffer the heartache of not knowing the joy and eternal blessing of giving, sharing, loving, reaching out to be a companion in need, and being an encouragement to others.
What a radical difference it is to experience the exchanged life. The Lord makes all things new and sits upon the throne of our hearts in full authority as our Sovereign Lord. Then it is not I, but Christ. It's no longer what I want, but what He desires of me. My heart focuses on the Lord, who is my life. What an exchange! What a different outlook, because of the change within wrought by the Holy Spirit. Our whole perspective on life is changed toward ourselves, others, and God!
Let's look at the reaction of the father. I must say this was a very special, long-suffering, gracious father. As he had dealt with the sin of the prodigal son in his departure, so now he deals with the pride and obstinacy of his envious and jealous brother. Notice, the father does not send a servant, but goes out himself to invite his son to the feast. He informs his son that nothing that he desired would be withheld from him. Nothing would be more gratifying to him than for both of his sons to partake of the same happiness and share in the same joy, united in the same bond of love and brought together in a oneness of spirit that would glorify God. Oh that we may choose to live under the blessing of the Lord, get self out of the way, and let Christ be our all in all. Receive from Him the bounties of His love, and appropriate the riches of His grace, while seated at the Father's table. It is His covenant with us, because we are now in Christ. Don't let "self" rob you of God's best for you.
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://www.litmin.org/dare.php?date=2023-05-05
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