THE PRODIGAL’S BROTHER
by Pam Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Most all of us know the story of the prodigal son from Luke 15:10-32. The word prodigal means spendthrift, financially frivolous, overly extravagant, and such was the prodigal son when he demanded to have his inheritance early. Probably like many of us, he took less to have it in the current time instead of having more later. Arguements can be made both ways about that, but for him, it was a quick loss from that extravagant living, that went even into the unrighteous ways of life.
This son had a brother, who had been quite obedient over the years and had really determined in his heart that he wanted to stick close to his father and do all the right things expected of him. In many ways he had it better, but didn’t realize that he really did have the better portion.
Probably the younger son who was the prodigal felt he could not live up to his older brother’s standard. Big brother always seemed to get it right, and got praised for it, and he was just the younger kid who couldn’t do everything his big brother could do and most likely felt that most of his life he was compared to his older brother and fell short.
So with a little independence stewing inside of him, the prodigal brother decided he was going to make his mark as someone different. Yes, his father loved him and was even kind enough to relent and give him his inheritance early because his father understood that love allows for some freedoms and his boy had become of age. Every family circumstance is different, but there was nothing he could do if the boy had made up his mind.
The father had trained him the best he knew how and some people will just do what is in their hearts and minds to do, even if it is not wise. Many of us like to test and feel our own borders, but if we don’t have a heart (yet) for wisdom, we can make some serious mistakes along the way and we can’t always be under the protective covering of a father when we venture out into the world. Those who have had no literal present father can still find God as their Father and He will impart to them things many natural fathers do not!
This is one story that has a happy ending, and we know that it does not always happen this way in life. Our Lord told this story to help us understand the nature of God’s love and forgiveness, and when we get these concepts early on, it really helps us a lot.
When the younger son chose to declare his indepence and move out, and even choosing to reject the ways of God in his lifestyle, the father had to die to the son he loved so much. Towards the end of the parable, he describes him as the “son who was dead, but is now alive again.” His father understood the demands on the kingdom life of the family of God, and that while God offers freedom, not just everything goes as acceptable. He had done his best to impart that to his children.
The father, loving his son, released him, and trusted God, looking every day for the answer to his prayers that his son would “wake up” and return. The father was not focused on showing his son “the error of his ways” but wanted his son with him as family in the structure of God’s loving and prosperous order.
The elder brother discerned, as elder brothers can, that his brother was up to no good. Self discipline does cause some pent up moments, and while he knew it was right to do things right, without an avenue for those frustrations, we can let out our energies in the wrong ways. The elder brother probably wanted a friend in his younger brother, and he may not have even seen himself as favored like the younger brother did.
Without choices, we don’t always know what we are missing, or could miss, and we battle with our curiosities. When we learn that God provides for our needs and has an order for it, we can come around and find fulfillment in it. Youth is youth with all its zeal and drive, and many want to test the limits. Wise parents explain things as best they can, but every generation is different and God really wants His people to come to Him first, even more than other men and women, as they mature.
God has a plan for every individual and parents don’t always perceive what that is. Many are discerning of it, but just as many probably are not, which is all the more reason to turn to God! Some talents are discovered that were not seen and some who become counselors later, are wise because of understanding the mistakes they made.
If we understand God’s basic order for life and the family, we will probably do okay. God does have need of ministers, and those who do respond to that, will get the greater rewards. Society often competes with that, but in the right spirit of things, there is peace in civilization that can be had and it is more valuable to most than war is, when people lust after other people’s things and will fight unjustly for them.
God, through this story, wants people to know the heart of the Heavenly Father and His great love and longsuffering for them. Because the older brother did not yet find a challenge for himself, it seems that he made his younger brother his challenge. But the truth is, that brother belonged to his father, and then even his father had to give him up unto God when he became of age and his father submitted to proper order.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink, and you can raise a child right to the best of your abilities and they still may make wrong choices. But this is where your prayer life has to kick in! Claim the Word, get a vision of how you believe in should be in the Lord and claim the Scriptures and believe God for it! It is amazing how God will answer our prayers.
But we also must realize that God has a will and there is the bigger picture of the Life Plan that He has in mind, including the redemption of those who so ever will. (John 3:16) We don’t become God’s counselor on things but we can discover the amazing path of life He has for us with our efforts.
There is a job set before us and we get to choose what we do in our generation with our circumstances. We can’t go back to the past and we can’t fast forward into the future at will. We have to live in the here and now but we do have the power to change things through prayer! The Holy Spirit is our Helper, and if we are open to look, He will show us things we may not have realized right away in answer to our prayers!
The prodigal’s brother didn’t realize it, but he really did have the best world. He had been content to live and work in his father’s house and he really didn’t want to leave there to go “play around” with the world. The world is full of good sales talk, but they don’t always add up to the truth of how things really are. There is a Truth and it is based in the Lord and His Word. It’s amazing, but the world really is big enough for all of us and it is able to provide. We just have to learn how to do it.
Two Scriptures tell of this very plainly. The first one is Psalm 145:16 that says of the Lord: “You open Your Hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” God created the earth and He has the power to sustain it and all that is on it. Another passage is Isaiah 45:18 that says: “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”
I remember being amazed when I first read that verse because so much of my life had been about fretting if I would be okay and would make it or not. It has taken a while to re-program my mind to the Word of God that way, but doing it has paid off! When you know things early, there really is an advantage to it, but God has made it so we all have to seek Him to find His perfect will for our lives.
The elder brother had many advantages of access – to the father, to his faith, to the business and even to the inheritance. His father told him he could have a party and celebrate his blessings any time. His pride was in the way from rejoicing that his lost brother was now back at home, even though very humbled. Humility, though, is a small price to pay for the blessings of God and His Family. To God, our faith in Him and His ways is not about ego, but about Who He is and the Plan of Love that He has for our lives, because God is Love!
If we can see ourselves as the elder brother at times, we can count our blessings! All we need is a little attitude adjustment and a little work on our faith and we will be fine. We don’t have to pay the price the younger brother paid and he did pay a price. He was particularly blessed that he had a family to come home to. The point of the Church is to be a people who will accept the people of God into their Family of the faith. There are so many benefits but we must all do our parts.
Let God work on you and place you where He wants you to be. There are gifts and treasures inside each one of us that He designed to come forth from us that will be a wonderful service to the Kingdom of God where we live where God is the King. There are people who do live that life, even though we all do struggle a bit at times. God does have faith yet in the earth, and His eyes search and long to find it and see it at work. He wants to give the rewards for it!
But we have to be meek and humble and learn of Him. If the elder brother never repented, he could have it even worse than the younger brother. There is a lot to be said for compassion, and there is nothing like a good and heartfelt testimony.
If we know the Lord, we need to be grateful. If we have access to the things of God, we have a lot to be thankful for. If we find our places of service, we will find joy in that, even when it’s not the most comfortable thing to do at times. We can’t hinder others, though, and we cannot wage unrighteous battles and think that we will be blessed. We may get away with something for a season, but God is just and fair and He will recompense.
God has just weights and measures and happy are we if we learn them! Find your blessings and stick with them and even stretch a bit to learn more. God can handle it. It’s okay to celebrate! Learn His balance and thrive. On Judgment Day it’s all about you anyway, and it will determine your eternal destiny.