Friday, April 24, 2009

The (Bitter) Prodigal Older Brother

This an extension to my post on the older brother.

The older brother was mad because grace worked in favor of his prodigal brother. "Older brothers" of our time cynically look down upon those who are in need of grace. Cynical people have a 'contemptous disbelief in people's goodness.' They look down on others as being stupid, foolish, or dissillusioned. They interpret other's actions as intentionally hurtful.

When 'older brothers' see others enjoying the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, they feel threatened. They take it personally and will attack freedom at every opportunity. They will blow up if you insinuate they do not have the Spirit and will think you are judging them and condemning them even though you aren't. They intellectualize their positions and argue incessantly about moot points, proving that the way they see the world is correct (and, consequently, that others are incorrect). They are rarely genuinely happy.

'Older Brothers,' as a whole, can not be appeased. Look at their lives. They usually are in conflict with others (family, business associates and church folks) or have beaten everyone down so much no one will cross them. Cynical people find it hard to submit to leadership. They will argue openly with "nice leadership" and will covertly subvert strong leadership with gossip, whining, and complaining to anyone who will listen. Cynics usually clump together, like the last Cheerios in a bowl and carry out vigilante raids under the cover of darkness to create rifts.

No wonder the Prodigal dad liked the Prodigal Son better and embraced him when he came back home. I imagine he was sick of the bitter older son's whining and griping. At least the Prodigal son had the humility to come back and say he messed up. The older brother was "right" (for all that got him) but was incapable of celebrating because of his cynicism.

I will admit, I am a Prodigal. I enjoy sitting in the celebration under the favor of my Father and I am too busy enjoying the Father's love to notice who is and is not celebrating with me. At least I know the grace of God because I need it often. At least I am familiar with the Father's love and can bask in its warmth. 'Older brothers' can't say that.

Praise God for the Prodigals. Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. The poor in spirit are the only ones who recognize the value of unmerited favor.

1 comment:

  1. Not to imply that it's good to ever turn from the Lord, but knowing what you're missing is a great motivator to come back to Him. As Jesus said, he to whom much was forgiven, loved his Master even more than he to whom little was forgiven.

    This older brother still had much to learn. Seems I have a mother-in-law like that....