The Elder Son

it was great to be back to work. the 1st day wasn’t as bad as i thought it would be. as i walked into the building and saw familiar faces, my heart bloomed. i missed the compassion office, as boring as it could get sometimes, and also my friends. there were so many stories to be told. i was chatting with a friend like we hadn’t seen each other for 3 months…and had to stop to breathe.

we, compassion staff, had the fast and pray session this morning. vanda, the worship leader, led us to study the scripture from luke 15:11-32, the infamous story of the lost son. she divided us into 3 groups and gave each a character from the story to dig deep into. ours was the elder brother.

the elder brother was a faithful worker who never complained or demanded anything from the father, unlike his younger brother who forced his inheritance from their dad and ventured out to live life as he wanted it. he was diligent in hard work and kept to the rules of the family.

should it be surprising, then, for his angry reaction towards his father and younger brother? when he learned that his brother came back and the whole house was throwing a welcome-back party for him, he had all the rights in the world to condemn everyone, get bitter and storm out of the house.

that wouldn’t be surprising if you were of the world. but for us, God’s sons and daughters, we know that something is missing. if he had lived and served out of love and obligation to the father, wouldn’t he rejoice when his father rejoiced? if he hadn’t been so self-righteous and prideful, wouldn’t he be slow to condemn and quick to forgive?

remember whom Jesus was addressing to – the pharisees. righteous, kept to the laws, knowledgeable, powerful and well-respected in the community.

but as paul warned the church in corinth, though you can do many great things (speaking in tongues, prophecy, having faith that can move the mountains, selling all possession to feed the poor and giving up life to be burned for the sake of others), without love, it is nothing.

the elder brother was the pharisees. he was us, christians who have lost the first love in Jesus Christ and resigned to the “religious duty”. will you deny it that often times you see yourselves higher or better than those who aren’t saved? will you refuse that you have never condemned or blamed others for making mistakes while you find excuses when it is caused by you? will you be able to say with confidence that you are serving God out of love and not obligation? do you get up every morning excited and eager to face the day knowing and being sure of your heavenly purpose?

we are the elder brother, succumbed to burdens of life on earth. we forget that we are the King of kings’ beloved children and that all that God has belongs to us. but we need to remember that it isn’t about us. it is about Him, the Lord…the Creator…the Redeemer…the great I AM. He chooses to love ALL, friends and foes. thus, it is none of our business to judge or condemn others.

we need to repent…to change our direction. i found myself wandering off of God’s path time and time again. here’s what i jotted down this morning:

i want to surge out of the mire. i’ve been swimming blindly downstream. now i want to be focused on the heavenly purpose and the eternal reward await me. i don’t want to be like the elder son who works with resentment and out of obligation…who lives with a mindset that i’m better than anyone else just because i’m saved from hell and judges others according to my own standards.

i want to be aware of Holy Spirit’s presence at all times…to realize that i’m living for the Lord…that life isn’t my own or about me…and to fix my gaze on Jesus. i don’t want to be prideful or arrogant. when i worry, i don’t trust God. i don’t want to fret over what i can or can’t.

thus, i’m laying myself down at Jesus’ feet. i want to change the direction. i want to get back on track with Him.i don’t want to just be a christian. i want to be Christ’s daughter, is passionate about life, ready to serve and seeks justice.  i want the fullness of Jesus…not of me. i am a zero but by being with the Lord, He gives me more and more.

are you the elder son? if yes, i encourage you to take a bold step of faith to get out of your comfort zone and get real with God. receive His love and take it as it is. we already have a ticket to enter heaven. what we do doesn’t matter as much as what we are to Him. are you just trying to get by or are you zealous for His love and His presence in your life? of course, it doesn’t mean stop working, serving or living life. rather, it’s a challenge to take a careful look at who you’re becoming on this journey and live out your faith as it’s meant to be. 

remember who you are in Him.

  1 But now, this is what the LORD says—
   he who created you, Jacob,
   he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
   I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
   I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
   they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
   you will not be burned;
   the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
   Cush and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
   and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
   nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
   I will bring your children from the east
   and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
   and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
   and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
   whom I created for my glory,
   whom I formed and made.” 8 Lead out those who have eyes but are blind,
   who have ears but are deaf.
9 All the nations gather together
   and the peoples assemble.
Which of their gods foretold this
   and proclaimed to us the former things?
Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right,
   so that others may hear and say, “It is true.”
10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
   “and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
   and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
   nor will there be one after me.
11 I, even I, am the LORD,
   and apart from me there is no savior.
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
   I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.
 13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
   When I act, who can reverse it?”

 14 This is what the LORD says—
   your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I will send to Babylon
   and bring down as fugitives all the Babylonians, 
   in the ships in which they took pride.
15 I am the LORD, your Holy One,
   Israel’s Creator, your King.” 16 This is what the LORD says—
   he who made a way through the sea,
   a path through the mighty waters,
17 who drew out the chariots and horses,
   the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
   extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
18 “Forget the former things;
   do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
   and streams in the wasteland.
20 The wild animals honor me,
   the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
   and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
 21 the people I formed for myself
   that they may proclaim my praise.

isaiah 43:1-21


About Mink Gough

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9 View all posts by Mink Gough

One response to “The Elder Son

  • Charlie Taylor

    Mink, what wonderful word of encouragement and intelligence. I hope 2011 brings you joy, peace,and fulfillment. May God bless you in your new position with Compassion.

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