I’ve been posting about the parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke’s Gospel. What most people don’t realize, is there are actually two prodigals in this story. Both sons disappointed the father. If I can understand the problem, then I can walk in a way that’s pleasing to God.
You’re probably wondering why I said that both of the sons disappointed the father. Most people teach that only the younger son was in the wrong. Actually, they both had the same problem, they just handled it differently.
Luke 15:11-32 shows that the two sons had an incorrect view of their relationship to the father. After spending all of his inheritance, the younger brother made this statement.
‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
Luke 15:18-19 NIV
He had lived his life on the assumption that his father wanted him to be a servant. In his young, formative years, he hated having to be told what to do. As a result, when he felt he was ready, he broke free by demanding his inheritance and leaving home.
But what you don’t often hear, is that the older brother had the same view of his father. But instead of leaving, he lived under it his whole life. It all came out when the younger brother returned.
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ The older brother became angry and refused to go in.”
Luke 15:25-28a NIV
The older brother was incensed that the father would throw a party in honor of the younger brother’s return. He refused to be a part of the celebration. So, the father went to him. He wanted to know why the older brother didn’t want to rejoice.
“But he answered his father, ‘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.’”
Luke 15:29 NIV
Did you hear him?
“All these years I’ve been your servant.”
Both sons were under the assumption that the father wanted them as slaves. Nothing was further from the truth. The father was looking for faithful sons to whom he could one day entrust all of his possessions.
It’s the same in our walk with the Lord. How do you see yourself? Do you think that God wants you for a slave? If so, then you’re headed down the same road as the prodigal. You’ll get frustrated trying to keep a set of rules you can never hope to live up to.
You might turn out like the older brother and spend your life in frustration thinking that God’s treating you unfairly. Or you may respond like the younger, giving up on serving God altogether.
The truth is that God doesn’t want you to be His slave. He’s looking for mature sons and daughters who will carry out His will on the earth.
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:6-7 NIV
Our goal should be to learn how to mature in Christ. To be a faithful representative of the Lord on earth. The Father is looking for adult sons and daughters who will live according to the leading of His Spirit in us.
Question: How does laying aside the slave mentality help you in your walk with God?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi