The Older Brother in ALL of Us

If there is a parable of Jesus that EVERYONE would recognize (both in the church and not), it is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is the story of a Father who has two lost sons. I love how Tim Keller says it. He says that they Younger Brother is lost in his badness and the Older Brother is lost in his goodness. They both only want the Father for what they can get from Him.

We all like to think we are the younger brother, and at some point we are/were. We have come in from the far country and are in need of the love and grace of the Father. This is true daily. No one is perfect, we are all sinners in need of God’s grace.

Here is the problem, we are not ALWAYS the younger brother. If we were, the sins of others wouldn’t bother us. We would see them in the same pig sty we just came from and welcome them to the family. In some situations, this is easy. When the people look like us and sin like us, it is hard for us to be TOO condemning because we know that we are then condemning ourselves.

What happens when the sinner who comes home doesn’t look like us and their sins don’t look like ours? This is when the Older Brother in all of us comes out. We question the heart and motive of the Younger Brother. We want the Younger Brother to earn his way back home. We feel cheated by the lavishness of the Father’s love on the Younger Brother,

“Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!” (Luke 15:29-30)

So how do we keep the Older Brother in us at bay? It starts with remembering that at one time we were the Younger Brother coming home. We must remember that God’s grace is for all. Paul writes in Romans, “Through the obedience (life and death of Jesus) of the one man the many will be made righteous.” It is not through our own good works that we are saved, but only through the grace of God.

In our sanctification, may we not forget the lengths from which we have been saved. At one point we were the Younger Brother, may we not go so far as to be lost in spite of our goodness.


~ by mikefoster on March 20, 2014.

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