The Sins of the Elder Son

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The story of the prodigal son is one of the most well-known parables that Jesus ever told. Most people are familiar with the prodigal’s part of the story. He was discontent with living and serving in his father’s house, so one day, he demanded his inheritance early. The father gives it to him, and he leaves home and wastes all the money on wicked living. After some time, famine came to the land, and the prodigal had to find work feeding pigs to survive. Finally, he comes to his senses and returns home. Instead of being angry and holding a grudge, his father happily receives him back into the family. But the prodigal son had a brother, also mentioned in the story. The story concludes with an exchange between the father and the elder son. The elder son never left home. He was hard-working. He obeyed his father’s instructions. All of these are admirable traits, but there was something wrong with the elder brother’s heart. He was proud, bitter, and envious, and he proved it by refusing to join in celebrating his brother’s return. How we react when the lost are found reveals what is truly in our hearts. If we are unmoved by a sinner’s profession of faith in Christ or cynical about a backslidden Christian getting right with God, we are acting like the prodigal’s big brother. We must confess our pride, bitterness, and envy and rejoice with the Father when a prodigal returns.