The Danger of Being the “Non-Prodigal”

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Have you been trying to follow the Lord? Have certain loved ones become spiritual spoiled brats? Have you struggled with obeying God’s commands for you?

In Luke 15, Jesus told three parables (The Lost Sheep, Coin, and {Prodigal} Son) to His followers to illustrate that one sinner who repents will cause much rejoicing in heaven!

Here’s the thing: When others overtly sin, it can be easy to think that we have not sinned. But when the point of comparison is Jesus, we will see how we can be piling on sins and opening up the way for their corresponding demonic spirit carriers to gain/ regain footholds in our lives… footholds that can become strongholds leaving us in bondage and hindering our prayers.

This can be seen when a person is offended by a parent, close friend and the offended starts to hate that person. Somewhere down the line, it is the offended who displays the qualities or behavior that he hated in the first place.

Apart from the Holy Spirit, we can easily fall prey to these sins which like bacteria… grow and take over.  Resentment can add on bitterness, hatred, vengeance and one of the two sins that will be dealt with severely: unforgiveness.  Below is a checklist of typical Prodigal’s Older Brother Syndrome (just an unofficial term) symptoms.

BLIND SPOTS CHECKLIST:

1. Anger and Pride. The older brother became angry [upon hearing that their father had killed the fattened calf because the Prodigal Son was back safe and sound] (v27-28).

James 1:20  because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

1 Pet 1:15 says we are called to be holy. Holiness is to be without sin, not even pride.

Proverbs 13:10 Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice
 
Prov 6:16 One of the “six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes”

2. Comparing Self To Others’ Sinfulness Instead of Christ’s Holiness.

When we compare our righteousness to that of spoiled brats, we might feel like Class Valedictorian and rightful Teacher’s Pet. But when we compare ourselves to Christ, how would we fare on holiness?

2Cor 10:12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

Luke 18: 9-14, To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told the parable that it wasn’t the one who was self-righteous who would be justified but the humble one who recognized his sin and asked for mercy.

3. Hard Heart. The older brother refused to go in (v 28). Older Brother couldn’t accept the father’s example of mercy, compassion, and forgiveness.

In John 21:22b, Jesus says, “What is that to you? You must follow me.” He will deal with everyone. Our lookout is our own walk with Him.

This is a reminder for us to keep our hearts merciful, forgiving, and aligned with God’s desire for everyone to repent. What Jesus has done for us is always going to be greater than what people to do/ will do to us.

4. Seeking Recognition and Honor for Self Over God’s. The older brother said in verse 29: Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you...’- His first word is “Look!” He wanted to be viewed as the good son. He wants recognition. Colossians 3:22-23 tells us that “we obey our earthly masters not only… to curry their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord… as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” From the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) and the older brother’s first word revealed he wanted to be seen.

We will come to crossroads repeatedly. Should I want the glory to go to me or Jesus? Should I increase and Jesus decrease or should Jesus increase and I can remind myself that… “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal‬ ‭2:20‬)‬‬

This is what John the Baptist declared when John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.

4. Misplaced Self-Righteousness. … and never disobeyed your orders‘ Jesus Himself said that no one is good except God alone. Paul says that all have sinned. The older brother thinks he is all righteous and has no need to repent. Jesus expresses that there is more rejoicing for the one who repents than ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Self-glory, envy, unforgiveness, hard-heartedness, which Older Brother is committing from the previous verses… the older brother did not recognize his actions the way God sees them: as sin.

5. Selective Sight (Seeing only what one wants to see). ‘Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.‘ The older brother felt very much oppressed, disadvantaged. But his father gave him much more than a young goat. When the Lost Son asked for his share of the estate, the father gave the older brother his own share of the estate.

Luke 15:12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

That was more than enough to buy many goats and celebrate with his friends. Plus Older Brother did not lose fellowship with his father. He was blessed by being spared from the dangers and risks that Younger Brother’s disobedience was subject to.

In addition, the Older Brother also had provision befitting his position and being the son of his father even during the times when the younger brother was in famine and in need (v14), had less than what was considered defiled pig pods (v15), starving to death (v17).

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The title, “Non-Prodigal,” is in quotes because to the Lord, all sinful attitudes are rebellion against Him.   The list above consists of sins which makes the Older Brother a Prodigal as well.

In the parable, the Father gave the example of compassion and unconditional love, acceptance for the Prodigal Son without half-hearted, arm’s length distance, conditional performance reviews or interrogations, no background investigations to certify that repentance was genuine.

While the lost son was still a long way off, the father saw him and was filled with compassion for him, ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him, ordered his servants to bring the best robe to put on the son, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, bring the fattened calf and kill it to have a feast and celebrate(vv20-24). 

Jesus who calls Himself the Good Shepherd says that the shepherd would leave the ninety-nine sheep (who aren’t lost) so that he could go after the lost sheep until he finds it. Little do we realize that that lost sheep is… Me, You.

*****Whether that one sinner (the lost sheep) is ourselves or our loved ones, it is God’s desire that none of us remain lost but that we all have repentant hearts.  If we are part of the ninety-nine “righteous persons who (think we) do not need to repent“, Jesus states that there will be more rejoicing for [our offender] the one sinner who does repent.

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Lord, help me to see things from Your point of view so that I may obey You, align myself with You, remain in You. I want to keep abiding in You, not be like the grape branch that is cut off from the vine, losing its Life Source. Open my eyes that You will make me account not for others’ choices but for my own obedience to You.

Thank You that You love me enough that You don’t want me to be lost. You want me to have a repentant heart always, aligned with Your heart and Your mind, knowing that You want everyone to be saved and to be repentant, to have mercy and forgiveness for the lost.  Thank You that You are revealing to me the pitfalls of being like the Older Brother… with the sins of pride, a hard heart, seeking recognition and honour for self and not You,  self-righteousness, having selective sight with complaining instead of grateful attitude.  Thank You that You are moulding me to reflect Your character of mercy, love,  forgiveness, humility which even though they are not natural for me, You are faithful to provide by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that You will leave the ninety-nine and go after the lost sheep until You find that lost sheep… first me then the other sheep.  I already rejoice with You and heaven by faith for the repentance of the lost sheep. Thank You that I can trust You to bring back the lost sheep into the fold. I praise You for Your faithfulness and love in Jesus’s name amen.

 

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