Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’ “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
Luke 15: 11-22
If you asked me ten years ago, I would state I identified most with the elder brother in this story.
If you asked me five years ago, I would say the same.
If you asked me one year ago, I would have totally changed my answer.
It’s not like I was jealous of the forgiveness offered to all the prodigals in my life, or that I felt less celebrated than others, or unrecognized in the deeds I performed.
My problem was that I had subconsciously put degrees on sins, and had decided that mine were not so severe as some others.
I also identified with the older brother, in that I looked at his life and learned that I didn’t ever want to become judgemental towards others. (Too late!)
I never felt I had much to learn from the prodigal son, because I was never anything like him!
Never had I screwed up so badly that I found myself begging for bread, and forgiveness.
I was always the one wronged.
Until last year.
Last year, I found myself not being able to look people in the eye…
Feeling like I didn’t even deserve to ATTEND my church, let alone serve at it.
I was filled with shame, grime, and every other filthy feeling.
Now, I’ve accepted God’s amazing forgiveness, one in which He forgets it ever happened!(Isaiah 43:25)
But I can’t forget what I was forgiven for.
And I’ve also learned that even the “small things”, or the secret things I’ve done were just as ugly to God as the ugliest thing I think I’ve ever done.
Alot of people who have walked with God for many years would also say they identify more with the older brother. And to that, I have to say, we need to look again at our hearts.
If we ever get to the place where we DON’T identify with the prodigal, the one who knew he was messed up and didn’t feel WORTHY of being just a hired hand in the place he had once called home….
We’re not supposed to live with guilt and shame, but we ARE called to never neglect ” so great a salvation “. (Psalm 119:93) (Hebrews 2:3)(Psalm 51:12)
We should always remember that we don’t deserve “so great a salvation”.
Nobody can earn it.
Nobody can win it.
Nobody can attain it.
We can only be given it,
What a beautiful truth!