â€œNow his elder son was in the field. As he came near to the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the servants to him, and asked what was going on. He said to him, â€˜Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and healthy.â€™ But he was angry, and would not go in. Therefore his father came out, and begged him. But he answered his father, â€˜Behold, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed a commandment of yours, but you never gave me a goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this, your son, came, who has devoured your living with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.â€™â€ Â Â Luke 15:25-30 (WEB)
Have you ever done something in your life that you regret? Forgiving yourself is difficult. Most of us hold ourselves to a higher standard than we do anyone else. We spend more time thinking about the reasons we shouldnâ€™t be forgiven instead of thinking about and accepting the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. Self-forgiveness comes slowly because we continue to backslide as those who are closest to us remind us of who we used to be. Our â€˜sinsâ€™ may not be forgiven by others.
The eldest son saw himself as an obedient, toe-the-line, make-dad-proud, kind of guy. He did the â€˜right thingâ€™ from his flesh, not from his heart. When obedience comes from my heart, the reward is in my heart in knowing that God is pleased. Obedience from my flesh is about what â€˜it can get meâ€™. I begin to think of my spiritual life as check marks on a ledger that I can trade in for prayers to be answered.
This is where the older son lived. He, too, had left his father because his heart wasnâ€™t there. He was angry before his brother came home. He was angry because his father had not publicly rejected his neâ€™er-do-well brother and was, in fact, welcoming him home as if nothing had happened. â€œWhat about ME?!â€
What is your concept of heaven? Are there going to be gold door knobs and diamond windows for the â€˜goodâ€™ people and small shacks for those who â€˜barely squeezed inâ€™? And if there are, who is going to decide who lives where? Itâ€™s Godâ€™s House so He decides.
â€œHe [the father] said to him, â€˜Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.â€™â€Â Â Â Luke 15:31-32 (WEB)
Do you have any time in your worship service for sharing? Do you share concerns and thanksgiving? I hope you do because I believe that is a vital witness in the Body of Christ. What was the reaction of the group the last time someone shared that they had made the choice to change and commit to follow Jesus Christ. I have been in a group when there was no reaction. Nothing! No applause. Nothing. It was like, â€œOK. Next.â€ Jesus said that angels rejoice when someone repents. Repentance. Turning from death and taking a direction into Life!. It is worth rejoicing!