The “Active” Older Brother

The “Active” Older Brother

Neal Pollard

You might accuse the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son of many things, but laziness is not one of them. In fact, notice what all he does as Jesus introduces him to us:

  • He came and approached the house (Lk. 15:25)
  • He heard music and dancing (Lk. 15:25)
  • He summoned a servant and inquired (Lk. 15:26)
  • He became angry (Lk. 15:28)
  • He answered and said to his father (Lk. 15:29-31)

In fact, throughout the parable, he’s constantly saying or doing something regarding the situation of his broken brother who had returned home. However, for all his activity, nobody admires him. Instead, we are disgusted by his behavior. That’s exactly what Jesus wants us to get out of this, since this brother represents the Pharisees and the scribes (Lk. 15:1-2). 

When we remind ourselves that this son never left home, we do well to let him cause us to examine ourselves if we are “faithful Christians.” When others offend me and sin against me, do I have the Father’s disposition of heart? Am I eager to receive and forgive? I may be tempted to get my mouth, my attitude, and my actions involved in such a way that’s active, but actively opposed to peace and reconciliation. Maybe it’s slandering that brother or even the Father. Maybe it’s actively working to hurt and punish the penitent. Maybe it’s holding a grudge that we refuse to let go. Maybe it’s nurturing resentment. 

If we are “mature” and “spiritual,” won’t we make sure that we do right no matter what our prodigal does or doesn’t do? Galatians 6:1 governs our actions. We must guard against being “in the right,” but being wrong! Let’s channel our energies and efforts toward what serves the Father’s purposes. We are to work in His vineyard, accomplishing His agenda! We cannot be too actively engaged in that (Gal. 6:9; 1 Cor. 15:58; 2 Cor. 4:1). 

Dan Winkler delivering a different, richer lesson on the older brother at FHU today.

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