13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 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. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 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.’”
The one thing that has always stuck me as odd about this story, is that the one child that has done everything right is the “bad guy” and one who did everything wrong is the one we all relate to. Why is that? The simple answer is that we all need forgiven and want to be excepted with open arms by our father. None of us want to act like the other brother, at least not like he acted when the his brother came home.
We should want to be that brother who stays and does his fathers buissness though. So many times we have the right intentions but have the wrong actions. We just don’t do things the way we should, but we are not intending to turn from God or not listen to him. In this story it is the exact opposite though. He is doing the right thing, but for the wrong intentions. I have highlighted a sentence in this passage, that shows where this child’s heart truly is. He feels that he has been “slaving” for his father. A slave is someone who has nothing except a debt to pay off by working for it. They have no rights to anything they do or have around them. This boy is saying that the only reason he didn’t go off like the other son, was that he wanted to work off the “debt” he owed his father so that he could get his inheritance.
The one thing he didn’t see was what his father said next; 31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. The one thing that the other brother realized along time ago. The inheritance was his, he didn’t have to work for it. All this time he could have been working WITH his father, building that relationship, instead he chose to work FOR his father, and seeing him as a boss, instead of a caring father. I know that the word with and for doesn’t change that fact that he was going to do the work either way, but it is the way we perceive things that makes all the difference. When we do things with someone, we have a bond with that person. When we work for someone, we tend to feel distant from them simply for the reason that they are the one’s we think are making us work.
When we see God as this all powerful being, looking down on us commanding us to do things a certain way, we loose that love for him, and refuse to accept the love he is pouring out. The father says everything I have is yours, these means that the son didn’t need to be given a goat or a fat calf for that matter, it was always his to begin with. This is what we miss when we follow God’s commandments so that we may have rewards, instead of following them out of love and respect. Heaven and all the earth is ours, we just can see that. You are God’s children; nothing is going to change that even if you squander the inheritance. God’s love is greater than your mistakes.
I’m not saying you don’t have to do work for the lord, this would be counter productive. You must do things for the lord, not out of spite or expectancy but out of love. It is not all that hard either, all God wants us to do is show his love to others. We all know how to love, just show that love to everyone. Don’t be the boy slaving away for a reward that is already his, and don’t be the boy who gets the reward and trades it for something else. Just love!