“Do We Resent God’s Grace?”

“Do We Resent God’s Grace?”

“Do We Resent God’s Grace?”
Luke 15:11-32

The Prodigal Son is one of the parables of Jesus that most Christians can probably tell from memory. Most Christians who have spent some time in church probably have an idea that the story is about a son who takes his dad’s money and wastes it and then wants to come back home and work as his dad’s servant because he does not feel worthy to be his son anymore. Most Christians may also know the twist in the story is that the dad welcomes the son home and instead of being angry with the son who wasted his money he is overjoyed to see him and throws a party.

What many Christians might forget about the story, however, is that there is another character who we don’t hear about until the very end of the parable. This is the character of the older brother who didn’t go off and waste his father’s money, but stayed home and worked hard to help out on the farm. When the younger son came back, the older brother isn’t so happy like the dad. Instead he is bitter and resentful that he hasn’t gotten a party. He is also angry because he feels like the younger son does not deserve such a welcome.

Perhaps one reason we might often forget about the older brother is that we don’t want to admit that he is the character that many of us can probably relate to the most. Those of us who have grown up in the church or who have been believers a long time and have tried to dutifully stay on the path of Jesus can feel a little resentful when someone new comes to faith who has been living destructively and yet receives God’s forgiveness. It can seem a little unfair.

So how do we move from resentment to rejoicing like the father? Are bitter feelings a sign that we are living out our faith from an orientation of obligation rather than an orientation of gratitude? How can we live within God’s grace in a manner that allows us to feel the joy of someone coming to faith for the first time?

-Pastor Erik Goehner