“There’s nothing worse than someone else’s good time.” Maybe this was the thinking of the elder brother in Jesus’ story of the Prodigal son and why he was so angry about the feast thrown to celebrate the one who had disgraced the entire family, the one who squandered his inheritance, the one who became a social pariah, and worse, the one who showed up filthy and smelling like swine! The older son was living with a poverty mindset, rigidly rules-keeping, resenting everyone’s joy, wallowing in self-pity, and thereby producing the very circumstances which were the bane of his existence. While living with and working for his father, it is an obvious point that Jesus makes, that this older son never lived with his father’s goodness; only with his orders, his requirements; only performing duties with an attitude of tragic, looming scarcity, doggedly missing out on the full measure of the love and generosity and openheartedness of his father who loved and appreciated him. Imagine the father’s dismay at the angry outburst from his firstborn! What wasted years! What parental anguish to be exposed so abruptly to this relationship debacle, this longstanding chasm separating their true hearts one from the other, this seething resentment of accumulated but silent grievances! And to think it was such a devastating misrepresentation of the father’s heart.
This is a cautionary tale for us today as well. The enemy of our souls profits from every available-to-him aspect of our fallenness to twist, to mangle the intimate reality of God’s Father love for us using insinuations and leading questions similar to the kind he used with Eve in the Garden. He injects empoisoned thoughts about our worthiness, our failures, our pasts, our overall suitability, and goes further, raising doubts about the sustainability of God’s love. If we yield to the powerful undertow of Satan’s tactics, we, too, can be lured away from the warmth and safety of the Father’s heart and down, down, down, into the mire of an ‘elder brother’ mindset, begrudgingly ‘serving’ Jesus, pining for the world’s glory and riches, attempting to earn our salvation, running on fumes spiritually. But! With only a simple glance back toward this Good, Good Father, we discover He’s been standing right behind us the whole time, and we are embraced afresh in His open, waiting arms, celebrated and cherished and crowned with His glory and goodness! That is not somebody else’s good time, y’all! Just sayin’. See you tomorrow at 10 AM. PD