We all know the Parable of the Prodigal Son; we have heard it many times, but have you identified yourself as the prodigal son or the older son? God is the father, and we are his sons and daughters, and like the father in the parable, God will always wait for us with open arms. He is eagerly waiting for His children to return home. He is waiting for us to decide to follow Him again, and He is willing to forgive our transgressions and receive us with compassion and love. God loves us; all He wants is for us to return home, and like the parable, He will receive us with a feast. God is a God of opportunities, and contrary to us, He does not hold grudges for every time we fail Him or betray Him. He is willing to forgive us every time we come back with repentance.
Like the prodigal son, we all have a foolish urge to be self-sustaining, and in this constant desire for control, we distance ourselves from God. And when we distance ourselves, we start living in a sinful way that keeps us apart in shame and bitterness. We also begin living in disobedience and dissatisfaction. This disobedience and discontent make us ungrateful for what we have, and we start wasting every blessing. When we adopt a self-sufficient approach and stop depending on God, we become rebels and start doing what we want, even when we know what we are doing is wrong.
On the other hand, the older son's actions reveal that he did not have the correct relationship with his father. He valued their relationship based on performance and not on grace. The same thing happens in the relationship between many Christians and God. Many Christians, like the Pharisees, see their relationship with God based on their performance and consider themselves worthy of God’s favor. The older son did not understand his father's grace and forgiving heart. Unfortunately, many people do not understand God's grace, and they feel entitled to criticize it. People like this focus on themselves; and do not care for others or have room for forgiveness. They become bitter when others get what they think they deserve. They become envious and resentful because they feel they deserve better. Envy usually comes when people see others having what they are lacking. People do not envy things they already have or things that are easily obtainable for them. They envy things that are difficult to obtain or are not within their grasp. Sadly, envy also comes when we feel entitled to judge if someone deserves to be blessed or not. For example, your friend who has always been dishonest just received a promotion, and when he talks about it, you feel angry because you have always been loyal and did not receive anything. You start questioning why he and not me; I have sacrificed so much and have been giving my 100 percent. Sounds familiar? We have all been there. Unfortunately, none of us are exempt from feeling envious. We need to be more aware and stop the feeling at its roots.
When we fill our lives with gratitude, we close the door to all those negative feelings. Being grateful for what we have makes us value things more. On the contrary, if we are always full of unconformity, we will always desire what we cannot have. Unconformity and frustration lead to ungratefulness and entitlement. Whenever we feel that we need more than we have, we start comparing ourselves with others. That constant comparison can be destructive and consuming. We must avoid the urge to compare ourselves with others. We must start looking more at our blessings than at what we lack. When we concentrate on our godsends, there will always be thankfulness, peace, and joy. When we focus on what we lack, despair, frustration, bitterness, and rage consume and destroy us. So whenever envy knocks on your door, I invite you to stop it at its roots and start filling yourself with gratitude. To be thankful for everything, even the little blessings, because gratefulness is the best weapon against an envious heart.
This parable is a beautiful example of God's grace for us, and we should learn from it. We all are like the prodigal son; we have run from God, selfishly wasted our resources, and struggled in sin. We are also like the older son, envious and entitled. However, as with the father with his son, God is willing to forgive us. Whether you are the prodigal son or the older son, He is always waiting for us to return home. He is always waiting with open arms!