The Prodigal’s Brother


“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.

“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

“But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ” ” Luke 15:11-31 (underlining added)

I read, studied, and heard preached the well known Bible story many call “the story of the prodigal son” a zillion times it seems before I noticed something I don’t ever recall seeing before nor do I remember ever having heard preached. Only the Spirit of God could have brought this to light. And what a powerful message it bears!

When a young man asks his father for his inheritance and hurries off to spend it all on sinful living and ends up in dire straits and turns around and returns home to his father to seek his forgiveness and receive his help, his father runs joyfully toward him to welcome him home and holds a huge celebration at his return. The young man’s brother is horrified that his father would celebrate his brother’s return given all the wrong his brother had done and how wisely and well he had himself behaved.

Now notice what I had never seen before:

“But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him (Luke 15:30).”

The older brother didn’t call his younger brother who had returned his brother. He referred to him as “this son of yours.” What filled his heart? Pride? Disgust? Jealousy? Bitterness? Hatred? Worry? Resentment? Judgment? Condemnation? Only God knows what exact sin filled his heart. But regardless of the exact sin that filled his heart, notice what happened. HIS HEART HAD HARDENED. He had developed a WALL AROUND HIS HEART. He had DISTANCED HIMSELF FROM HIS BROTHER. He no longer called him brother!

Oh, friend, is this not what we sometimes do when it comes to others? Do we not get offended in one way or another by someone else, whether a spouse, sibling, friend, teammate, classmate, prison mate, relative, employer, co-worker, roommate, etc. and WALL OFF OUR HEARTS because of the sin in our hearts? Because of the hurt we refuse to let go, because we refuse to forgive, because of our self-righteousness, because of our worry of being hurt again, etc.? And do we not DISTANCE OURSELVES from that person? And not only from that person, but perhaps from others too? Even sometimes WALLING OFF OUR HEARTS from the Lord because we think we need to “protect” ourselves or because we’re too bitter and angry to let anyone close, not even God?

If no other words had been used at all to describe the state of his heart, that would have said it all. That the young man whom he had once called brother, he had set up such a great divide between the two of them in his heart that he could and would no longer call him brother.

When he says “this son of yours,” he acknowledges that his brother exists and has returned. But he makes plain, makes loud and clear, and emphatically makes known that he has CUT OFF HIS BROTHER IN HIS HEART from being brother.

Do you have any walls around your heart, friend? Have you created distance between you and someone else? From everyone? From certain people? Or one person? Or even God? Have you cut off someone? Have you cut off the Lord? Is your heart filled with any sin? Pride? Anger? Hurt you refuse to let go? The refusal to forgive? Anything else? Have you spoken unloving words? Have you taken actions that show a lack of love? Is there anything you need to come clean about? Break free from? Be forgiven for?

God didn’t create us to live with walls around our hearts.

He created us to love.

Do you need to go before the Lord and seek His forgiveness? Do you need to go to anyone else and seek theirs? Do you need to get rid of the walls and for Christ’s sake choose to love and to forgive? To have mercy? To show grace?

The man in the story revealed the state of his heart in that one simple sentence in which he revealed he no longer considered his brother his brother.

What’s the state of your heart, friend?

The Lord knows. Please go before Him and see if there is anything through this message He wants to bring into the light.

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