Summary: Luke 15 talks about a father and his two sons. One is a prodigal, and the other is pious. This message looks at some of the attributes of the elder son. Prayerfully, you have not succumbed to the elder son SIN-drome.
One of the great dangers for anyone who has been saved by the grace of God is that they become so familiar with being saved, that they do not rightfully keep God in the place of exaltedness in their life that He occupied at the first. Neither do they serve God in the way that they should. Serving God is not to be a must, but a desire, a joy, a pleasure. And in this text, which is not preached on nearly as much as the previous verses, there are some symptoms and characteristics that exist in a person who is suffering from such a condition. I call it “The Elder Son Syndrome.” And I want us to look at this text, and look at our lives, and as pastor, there are some things that I want to say to us, and some things that I feel I must say this morning.
Look with me at several things. First, it says, “Now his elder son was in the field.” Notice that he is the elder son. Now this has nothing to do with age, but with birth order. I don’t want you to think that this is a challenge to senior citizens. It’s not. *It refers to the fact that he was older, or relating it to the church, he had “been around longer.” I always cringe when I hear people start talking about how long they’ve been around. Like that somehow automatically qualifies them as being better, or wiser, or more knowledgeable, or a host of other things. We should remember that when God sent Samuel to anoint a new king of Israel, he chose the youngest of 8 children. One who hadn’t been around as long. *Not that God always does that, but it serves to tell us that longevity in serving God has nothing to do with divine choosing. God can choose who He will!
The elder son had been around longer. He knew how things were supposed to be done. When you’re around a long time, you begin to learn the routine, the protocol, the procedures, the modus operandi - the mode of operation. You learn the code of behavior. And you can even behave a certain way in observance of rules and regulations, not because of a life change, or a heart transformation, but merely because you know what’s expected of you. You’ve learned the code of behavior.
I’ll tell you something else about this elder son: He had drifted from the father, and was out in the field. He was so far from the father, that he had no idea what was going on in his father’s house. He was so busy working for the father, that he had grown distant from the father. *There is a danger of becoming so involved in the proper code of behavior, and in the procedures and practices of the church, that you can simultaneously grow distant from the Father. It happens in marriages. You can drift from the Father, and have no idea what is happening in His Kingdom. Isn’t it amazing that you can be around the Church for a long time, and have to depend on someone else to keep you in touch and informed about what’s going on.
Let me point something else out to you about this elder son. Notice that he was so distant, that he was unconcerned and oblivious to whether or not the lost was coming in. He had no idea whether the lost were being rescued or not. *How many people have been saved here in the past year? Not many. And woe be unto you if that doesn’t bother you. This son was oblivious to the entrance of the lost. It’s a great danger to become so concerned and involved with other things, that you cease to be focused on the plight of the lost. Because when you boil it all down, that is the only thing that matters.
Not whether we sing slow songs or fast songs, choruses or hymns, use a keyboard or a guitar. The main concern is whether or not the lost are being saved! It’s not in whether the church bulletin meets certain criteria of your personal liking or not. *Do you mean to tell me that people are dying, people are lost, headed for fire and brimstone, and we’re going to worry about paper and ink? Woe be unto us - and God have mercy on us - if we are so caught up into the menial, that we fail to value the eternal. Souls - that’s the main issue of every church. Are souls being saved and rescued from the state of lost-ness? If not - then we’re failing. So, this son was a worker, but not a worshipper.
Notice something else about this son. *Now please get this: He was not upset that his brother had come back. People don’t get upset when the lost are saved - unless their unsaved themselves. I believe it is evident that he was upset at what the father did for the younger son when he came back. These verses reveal that he had a great deal of anger and animosity. He was displeased with the Father, and he took it out by bashing the brother. He was so angry, that would not rejoice that the lost had been found. He would not go into the house.