Time to Come Home, Pt. 2
This is the second in a 3-part series on the Prodigal Child.
“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. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 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. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’" Luke 15:25-30
The Older Son. He watched his younger brother take his inheritance before the time was right. He watched his father's heart break because his younger brother left. He worked hard every day to pick up the pieces, to make up for the lost set of hands, to make his father happy, and to keep his family together. He didn't take his inheritance early and leave the mess and chaos behind. He was loyal. He stayed. And when his younger brother returned, he had no reason to welcome him home or forgive him.
Are you the older son? Perhaps there's a strained relationship that you have no intention of mending. Maybe someone hurt you or your family in a terrible way and you have no reason to welcome that person home or forgive them.
Though never easy, it's time to forgive.
Forgiveness doesn't come natural. Our human inclination is to hold a grudge, retaliate, and dwell in our bitterness and victim-hood. We get angry and we want to get even. We decide that surely our betrayer isn't worthy of forgiveness and what they did was too heinous to be forgiven. We can all relate to the older son. He was not only unwilling to forgive, but he was jealous that his brother received such royal treatment upon coming home. What exactly had he done to receive this type of celebration? I stayed, I never left, and you've never celebrated me. I can imagine the older son's reasoning. It sounds good. Perhaps you've had a similar series of thoughts in your own mind regarding a difficult relationship or situation.
But the older son is missing out. Sure, he's got a logical explanation, but his worldview is warped. Life isn't fair. People do make mistakes. We all mess up, fall short, and hurt others. This is why forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness will set both parties free. The one betrayed will find peace and joy. The betrayer will release the guilt and shame.
Jesus told His followers to be forgivers. "So watch yourselves. 'If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them" (Luke 17:3). When we forgive, we are being obedient to the life of righteousness God calls us to. When we forgive, we are following Christ's example and guidance. When we forgive, we are truly modeling real love and Christian living.
Forgiveness isn't easy. It usually isn't something that happens overnight. I encourage you to acknowledge if there's a hardness in your heart toward someone. Consider forgiveness and invite the Holy Spirit into your situation. Prayerfully move through the journey of forgiveness, so that you and your betrayer can be freed from the pain, hurt, and anger. Forgive, not because it is easy or fair, but because Jesus invites us to do so. And what He brings you to, He will give you the strength, courage, and wisdom to get through.
This Week’s Reading Plan
As you read the following passages this week, ask yourself these questions:
1) What verse comforts me that I can commit to memory?
2) What word or phrase stands out?
3) What am I learning about God from this? 4) How can I apply this to my life today?
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Author: Pamela Palmer
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