In the book of John in the Bible there is a story about a father and two sons. Most of us know the teaching and refer to it as the story of the prodigal son. In the story there are three major characters, the father, the prodigal son and the older son who remains at home.
The youngest son decides he is unhappy at home and asks his father for his inheritance and leaves home. He lives for the moment totally focused on himself for quite a while. Then, because he did not stay at home and learn from the father how to manage his money, how to have a good work ethic and other life lessons, he squanders all he has. He finally finds a job that would shame his family, feeding hogs. It could have been prosituting himself, or selling drugs or any number of shady dealings. It was the only employment he believed he could find. All this time the other brother has stayed on the farm, tending livestock, sowing and reaping, living in a safe home with a father who loves him.
One day the son slopping hogs decides he just can't go on. Maybe he is sick, maybe he can't face another day in the pigpen, maybe he has been away so long he just wants to see his family one more time. He returns and before he makes it in the driveway the father is running down to meet him. The prodigal apologizes over and over. The father welcomes him home. the older brother is jealous.
What both sons did not realize is that the father loves them both. Equally. The son who left and came home finally realized it. I don't know if the son who stayed at home ever did.
God, the Father loves everyone. He loves the son who ignores Him and the son who knows Him the same. Sometimes I think we forget that. The difference today is just what it was for the two sons. The prodigal did not have the blessing that he would have had all those years he was gone, he did not know the Father all that time. The 'obedient' son lived in the daily blessings, but was jealous when he thought someone was being favoured over him. He never understood that the Father loved them both.
Isn't the goal for both sons to know the Lord? Isn't the goal for prodigals to be restored? Are we jealous when they return, or do we rejoice? The older brother had an offense. Even thought the prodigal asked for forgiveness, it was not enough. I often think the older son would have preferred a punishment. He never understood the grace that he lived in each day. Instead of making him merciful, he became judgemental.
Lord, help us to be peacemakers. Help us to encourage others to recieve grace and mercy. Bring every prodigal home.
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