The prodigal’s family

Good morning. Our memory verse this week is Ephesians 4:32. In Luke 15:11-32 we have a contrast of the attitudes that cause forgiveness and those that keep us from forgiving. The parable of the prodigal son provides a platform for us to examine ourselves as to whose character we are most like. When the prodigal son “came to himself,” he decided to return to his father. Notice some lessons about forgiveness from this parable.

The father was obviously desirous of his son’s return. The offense committed was against the father, not the older brother. Nevertheless, our Bibles give us the picture that the father anxiously awaited the son’s return. When you have been sinned against, do you anxiously desire the repentance of the sinner? Or, do you, perhaps, wish to stay angry a little longer. Some are as offended by an apology as by a sin. They want to nurse the hurt, anger and bitterness and almost feel robbed when they are called upon to give it up. It is almost like they say in their mind, “How dare they think that an apology can change the hurt and trouble they have caused me?” Of course, it cannot. Forgiveness means we accept the cost of the sin against ourselves without exacting payment of the sinner.

The older brother had undoubtedly nursed his anger after his younger brother left. During the absence of his brother, he continued to dwell on the offense (maybe not openly) even though it was not against him. With the return of the brother, his anger comes to the forefront when the younger son is accorded his old status and position with rejoicing. Quite possibly, there was some part of him that wanted the return of his brother, but jealousy and self-appreciation brought his anger to the front.

The father wanted to celebrate the return of the young man. His brother did not even want to see or greet the returned prodigal. Have you ever been in the position of not wanting to see or speak with a brother who has sinned against you? Have you ever seen a brother or sister welcomed back while you withheld your welcome?

The father welcomed the son back unconditionally. He did not follow the request of the son to make him a servant, but gave him the family ring and a robe showing his sonship fully restored. It is impossible to treat someone we have not forgiven in our heart with our full trust and confidence. As humans, it is hard when we have forgiven them. But the father did not put the son on trial or probation. He accepted him. Don’t you love to be accepted?

The older brother seems to have thought that he deserved more than his prodigal sibling. He begrudged what his brother was now receiving. It is a spirit very much like some of the laborers in the vineyard in Mt. 20:10-12. They thought they deserved better treatment. We forget that no matter what good we may have done, we constantly also need forgiveness. Shall we complain of others whom the grace of God has changed and saved as we also have been blessed?

Forgive to be forgiven

Mike Glenn