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September 2008

Prodigal Son

Forgiven and Forgiving

I am 39 years old and 2 years older then my brother. In our mid-twenties, we both joined our father's furniture company. After a couple of years, my brother decided the work wasn't for him and left the company. Unfortunately, he really went off the rails, got mixed up with bad friends and ended up on drugs. It is now 10 years later and he has come back home.

My prayer request is this: Our father has accepted my brother back into the company, and I am having some hard feelings towards both of them. Even though I am a new christian, I know these feelings are wrong. The fact that my father has always been generous to me makes me realize that I have no good reason to be mad at him. Please pray that God will take these hard feelings away, and are there some Bible texts that might help me?

Thankyou, Linda.

God bless you, Linda, for being so honest and mature about this problem. Some of us, who have been christians for many years, still have difficulty with acknowledging the truth about being jealous, envious or whatever else one might call it.

We can be jealous or envious of siblings, workmates, and even friends. We can think they are more beautiful, talented, and that they get more attention then we do. This feeling of things not always being fair probably bothers all of us from time to time.

A Bible story that has helped me a lot is the story of the Prodigal Son as found in Luke 15.

This chapter speaks about being lost. Ever been lost in a strange town? John and I got lost a couple of years ago near Philadelphia while taking an evening drive, and ended up on a one way street full of very rowdy gang members. John some how got the car turned around and we skidalled out of there as fast as we could. Whenever one is lost, it is always good to find ones way home! Spiritually, we are all lost until we find our way back to the Father's house. In Luke 15 we hear the story of the lost boy who came home.

I have had the privilege of seeing Rembrandt's famous painting of the Prodigal Son in The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, several times, and each time I have looked at it, I have seen something new. For those who haven't seen it, the following is a web address where you can look it up: Rembrandt's painting of the Prodigal Son

As one gazes at the painting and reads the Bible story, we become aware of a number of things.

Firstly, WE are that lost son and just like him, we need to bow at the feet of our father, our heavenly Father.

Secondly, we can see not only the love of the father towards his wayward boy, but it shows us how we are to act towards the lost.

Thirdly, we see in the elder brother all that a Christian should not be; as jealousy and envy only results in resentment.

Strange or perhaps not so strange, the answer to resentment is found in the story itself. The answer is found in verse 31.

"My son," the father says, "you are always with me, and everything I have is yours." The Father is telling us the best way to deal with resentment is to develop an attitude of gratitude. Why? Because firstly, "I am always with you." What a blessing to have God's presence always. Secondly, "All I have is yours." Salvation and all its benefits are ours. Gratitude for all this reminds us that it is all about Grace; which leads us to want for others the same blessings that we want for ourselves.

It's interesting to note that we are not told how the elder brother reacts to his father's loving rebuke. Did he join the party or not? Perhaps Jesus did this deliberately to force us, the listeners, to consider our response as well.

So Linda, the Bible tells all of us that the best way to overcome resentment is to be full of gratitude just as Psalm. 103 says; "Praise the LORD, my soul, and do not forget how kind He is. He forgives all my sins and blesses me with love and mercy. As a father is kind to his children, so the LORD is kind to those who honor Him."

Dear Father in Heaven, We thank you for the story of the prodigal son in which your bountiful and forgiving love is so beautifully portrayed. Help us to display this same loving and forgiving spirit in our lives, and we pray in Jesus name. Amen.

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