Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The "Other" Brother

“But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him,'”
Luke 15:29-30 (emphasis mine).

The sound of laughter, the smell of roasting meat – what's going on? It isn't anyone's birthday; at least I don't think so. What's this spontaneous outburst of celebration? Curiosity reeled him in. What has father so excited? I haven't seen him like this in a long, long time.

Old hands firmly gripped his shoulders. The patriarch's face glowed; gone was the worried, apprehensive look.

“He's back.”

“Who? Who's back Father?”

“Your brother. He's come home.”

The words dropped down in his stomach like a load of lead.

Awhile back I wrote about the Prodigal Son. At that time a friend asked why I hadn't included the other brother. My reasons were twofold.

First, the post would have been too long. Second, I wasn't sure how to tackle the sibling's lousy attitude. I relate to his feelings and writing about him strikes a nerve. Let me get out my tranquilizer gun. Here goes - this is gonna hurt.

John Crowder's book, Cosmos Reborn, provides interesting insight about the other brother. When the older boy discovered Party Central in full gear he was confused. What was the happy occasion? Nothing in his life ever warranted such a celebration. To his horror he discovered his reprobate younger brother was back and the guest of honor. He was furious.

Encouraged by his father to join in the festivities, he sulked and refused. He was, after all, the good son. He always obeyed orders and worked hard. He kept his nose clean, didn't hang around loose women or squander Dad's money. His father patiently listened to the son's litany of complaints and gently reminded him of an important, overlooked fact.

“'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours,'” Luke 15:31.

That's right, the older son had received his inheritance also.

“So he (the father) divided his property between them,” (the two sons) Luke 15:12.

His was the double portion. If he'd wanted a fattened calf and a party, the necessary disposable funds were available for use as he saw fit.

The older brother's accusation of his sibling's financial irresponsibility was inaccurate. The boy wasted his own money, not his father's. The pursuit of fun and games led the young man to a far away land. How did the elder son know the younger spent time with hookers? Hmm.

As the celebration wore on the angry brother remained outside. He threw his own party - a pity party. Only he and his father attended. Maybe this son needed a greater dose of the father's love more than his brother.

Have you noticed that the father never held up the elder son as an exemplary role model to his younger boy? He already had one child with a unhappy, dissatisfied slave's mentality. One was enough.

Like the older brother, I've complained to my Heavenly Father that I haven't received my “fair share.” Foolishly I too overlooked the fact that He's already given me my inheritance. I've been waiting on God to do something He's already done. He's been patiently waiting on me to receive what is already mine and stop whining.

To miss a party in full swing is stupid. I should rejoice when one presumed dead re-surfaces and is back to life. Their return doesn't impact what God's already given me. The Law of  Diminishing Returns doesn't operate in God's economy. My Father waits with me while I mope around and gently nudges me toward the door to join in the fun. If I'm smart, I'll listen to Him, stop feeling sorry for myself and join His bash; His are always better than mine, for sure.

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