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Summary: Three lessons to learn from how the elder son responded to his prodigal brother’s return.

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WHEN IT COMES TO JEALOUSY, IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT IF YOUR NEIGHBOR’S GRASS IS GREENER, JUST BE THANKFUL THAT YOU ARE STILL ABOVE GROUND TO SEE IT!

CELEBRATING SOMEONE ELSE’S SUCCESS OR ACHIEVEMENT CAN BE A DIFFICULT THING IN LIFE, ESPECIALLY IF ALL THAT ONE KNOWS IS HARD LABOR WITHOUT REWARD.

THIS IS A PRIME TIME FOR THAT OLD HUMAN NATURE TO DIG UP THOSE FEELINGS OF ANGER. IT CAN DEVELOP FEELINGS OF RESENTMENT AND ANGER IF SOMEONE OBTAINS SUCCESS EASIER THAN WE DID.

NOT ONLY EASIER, BUT WHEN THEY OBTAINED IT FASTER THAN WE DID, WITH MORE FANFARE THAN WE DID WHILE SEEMING TO HAVE DONE NOTHING TO DESERVE SUCH "QUICK SUCCESS."

DOESN’T SEEM FAIR DOES IT? DOESN’T SEEM LIKE THEY DESERVE IT DOES IT? THE ELDER BROTHER THOUGHT SO!

NO! IT DOESN’T SEEM FAIR! YES, I’M SURE IT WAS TOTALLY INCONCEIVABLE FOR THE ELDER BROTHER TO THINK THAT HIS BROTHER, WHO WILLFULLY SQUANDERS HIS LIFE AND PURPOSELY TURNED AWAY FROM GOD WOULD DESERVE TO BE AWARDED WITH ANYTHING AT ALL, ESPECIALLY A WELCOME HOME PARTY.

LIKE THE ELDER BROTHER, I’M SURE MOST OF US WOULD DEMAND AN EXPLANATION, EXPECT AN APOLOGY, REQUIRE RESTITUTION FOR ALL THAT WAS LOST AND SQUANDERED, AND CALL FOR A PROMISE THAT IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENED.

NOT ONLY DID THE PRODIGAL SON RECEIVE HIS WELCOME, BUT DON’T FORGET THAT THE ELDER SON ALSO RECEIVED HIS AS WELL. BOTH WERE WELCOMED GUESTS AT THE FATHER’S CELEBRATION.

THIS REMINDS ME OF THE ANSWER ABRAHAM LINCOLN GAVE TO A QUESTION HE WAS ASKED ABOUT HOW HE WOULD TREAT ALL OF THE CONFEDERATE SOLDIERS ONCE THE CIVIL WAR WAS OVER.

EXPECTING VENGEANCE AND EVEN THOUGHTS OF EXECUTION BECAUSE OF TREASON, LINCOLN SURPRISED ALL OF THEM BY SAYING, "I WILL TREAT THEM AS IF THEY HAD NEVER BEEN AWAY."

THIS IS A WONDERFUL EXAMPLE OF THE AMAZING LOVE THAT GOD SHOWS TOWARDS US. IT WAS IN THIS FASHION THAT THE FATHER HAD HOPED THE ELDER SON WOULD TREAT HIS YOUNGER BROTHER. BUT HE DIDN’T.

ALTHOUGH ROMANS 13:8, TELLS US, "OWE NO ONE ANYTHING, EXCEPT TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER," THE ELDER SON SEEMED TO HAVE FORGOTTEN THAT, PROBABLY BECAUSE HE WAS SO CAUGHT UP IN SELFISHNESS AND JEALOUSY.

WHY? WHY WOULD HE RAGE WITH SUCH HATRED TOWARDS HIS BROTHER? WHAT IS IT WE CAN LEARN FROM THIS INCIDENT THAT WE CAN USE TO BETTER OUR WALK WITH CHRIST AND WITH OUR NEIGHBOR?

THE FIRST LESSON IS THAT WE MUST NEVER LET ANGER CONSUME US. THE ELDER BROTHER’S EXPRESSION OF ANGER GIVES US THE EXAMPLE OF A HEART THAT IS DEMANDING AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.

IT IS A HEART FUELED BY RETRIBUTION THAT WANTS TO SEE SIN PUNISHED INSTEAD OF FORGIVEN. ONE THAT FINDS JOY IN SEEING A SINNER DESTROYED RATHER THAN RESTORED.

JESUS NEVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT DESTROYING. HE ALWAYS TAUGHT FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION. IT IS HATING THE SIN BUT LOVING THE SINNER.

EPHESIANS 4:31, "LET ALL BITTERNESS AND WRATH AND ANGER AND HARSH WORDS AND SLANDER BE PUT AWAY FROM YOU, WITH ALL FORMS OF [HOSTILITY], AND BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER, TENDERHEARTED, FORGIVING ONE ANOTHER, AS GOD IN CHRIST FORGAVE YOU!"

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING ANGRY AT SIN, BUT WHEN WE LET THAT ANGER CONSUME US TO THE POINT THAT WE TURN IT UPON THE SINNER, THEN WE TURN ANGER INTO SIN.

EPHESIANS 4:26, "DON’T SIN BY LETTING ANGER GAIN CONTROL OVER YOU. DON’T LET THE SUN GO DOWN WHILE YOU ARE STILL ANGRY, FOR ANGER GIVES A MIGHTY FOOTHOLD TO THE DEVIL." LESSON ONE: DON’T LET ANGER CONSUME YOU.

LESSON TWO: WHEN OFFENDED WE MUST RESPOND IN THE LOVE OF CHRIST. THE ELDER SON WAS FURIOUS AND HE LET EVERYONE KNOW IT! HE REACTED VERY RUDELY AND WAS HOSTILE TOWARDS HIS FATHER.

REGARDLESS IF WE ARE OFFENDED BY SOMEONE’S QUICK SUCCESS, WHAT WE FEEL IS UNDESERVED MERIT, OR EVEN A JUSTIFIABLE OFFENSE AGAINST US, WE MUST ALWAYS RESPOND IN THE LOVE OF CHRIST.

ROMANS 12:16-18, " LIVE IN HARMONY WITH EACH OTHER. DON’T TRY TO ACT IMPORTANT, BUT ENJOY THE COMPANY OF ORDINARY PEOPLE. AND DON’T THINK YOU KNOW IT ALL! NEVER PAY BACK EVIL FOR EVIL TO ANYONE. DO THINGS IN SUCH A WAY THAT EVERYONE CAN SEE YOU ARE HONORABLE.DO YOUR PART TO LIVE IN PEACE WITH EVERYONE, AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE." LESSON TWO: WHEN OFFENDED WE MUST RESPOND IN THE LOVE OF CHRIST.

LESSON THREE: TREAT GOD THE FATHER AS HE SO RIGHTLY DESERVES. THE ELDER SON WAS HARSH AND DISRESPECTFUL TOWARDS HIS FATHER. HE ALSO SHOWED NO SYMPATHY TOWARDS HIS BROTHER.

WHILE ON HIS BARRAGE OF INSULTS, HE JUST SO HAPPENED TO POMPOUSLY BOAST OF HIS OWN RESUME OF ACHIEVEMENTS TO "PROVE" HOW WONDERFUL AND SINLESS HE WAS.

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