“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” –Luke 15:31-32
He was angry! In fact, the Bible indicates that he was beyond angry. He was fuming! He had served his father faithfully his entire life and now his younger, rebellious brother was back. And they were throwing that brother a party. When had they ever thrown him, the faithful son, a party? When had they ever even acknowledged his dedication to the family? NEVER!
While his younger brother traveled the world, spent money and lived without a care, he had stayed and behaved appropriately. And now that the money had run out his brother had returned home. What the older brother wasn’t expecting was to see his irresponsible sibling welcomed upon his return. He had expected his father to turn him away or, at the most, let him work as a servant in the fields. It was he, the older brother, whom this party should be for and there was no way he was going in to celebrate his baby brother.
So his father comes looking for him and asks him to come in. The older son explains his hurt and anger, but his father does not apologize. He simply reminds his son that he loves both sons and cannot help but to celebrate the one who has returned.
While his father forgave, the older brother held onto resentment. He resented his younger brother for leaving. He resented his younger brother for returning and he resented his father for his willingness to forgive, so much so that he could not experience the joy that comes when we are willing to show mercy on others.
How is your forgiving heart? Is there someone out there whom you have trouble believing that God would love because it is so hard for you to love him or her? If so, you are missing out on the celebration and joy you can share with God each and every time one of His children turns from wrong ways and returns to Him.
1. Why can it be tempting to be angry or bitter about the grace God lavishes on everyone?
2. Is it hard or easy for you to forgive others when they hurt you? Pray today that God will give you a heart of mercy like His.
Jonah 4:1-10; Matthew 6:12-15; Luke 23:32-43