Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Elder Brother Syndrome

In Luke 15 we have the story of a prodigal son who repented and an elder brother who did not.The account gives us insight into the heart of our Heavenly Father. When the sinful son came to himself in a hog pen he drew three implications from his sin. 1. He sinned against heaven. 2. He sinned against his father. 3. The son recognized that he was no longer worthy to be called a son-sin leaves us with an acute feeling of having lost the Fathers fellowship. When the son repented he headed back to his father. True repentance cannot be divorced from action. Repentance drives us to the arms of our Heavenly Father, who stand ready to forgive and restore. Note the signs that the prodigal had been fully restored to the status of son. 1. The signet ring, given so that the son could act in the name of his father. It was a sign of trust and authority. Luke 15:22. 2. The father did not mourn or regret the return of the son, he celebrated the restoration. The real point of the parable is the attitude and action of the elder son. Luke 15:26-28. The statement "There go I but for the grace of God," may be a statement of pride. Our view of sinners should be one of great sorrow, for they are lost. Only by purging the "elder brother syndrome" from the church can we ever hope to win the world for Christ. Serving God involves more than a slavish adherence to a legal code, it includes love for ones fellow man. We have no right to be selfish when it comes to the love and blessings of God.We have no right to hog God's grace. The elders brothers hurt feelings tumbled out in a torrent against the father. 1. It omitted any form of respectful address. 2. It spoke of his relationship as being less than a son, "Behold these many years I have slaved for you." 3. He reminded his father that he had always obeyed his commands. 4. He bitterly accused his father of having never rewarded him properly. 5. He indulged in character assassination of his brother. The bitter, unforgiving elder brother missed grace, he did not understand that grace is what the Lord does for us, not what we do for the Lord. Grace is the very thing that allows us to put up with the yokels that show up week after week in our local churches. The amazing thing about them is that they have been redeemed and they in truth are very much like we are. Really, the amazing thing about grace is they are able to put up with, accept and love us. That's God's grace in action and it's very attractive.

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