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.' (Luke 15:29)
Sometimes we feel weary in our walk with God. While others pursue hobbies and take it easy on the weekend, we are at church, fulfilling our set of church duties. Day-to-day, we must be constantly vigilant to maintain our holiness, restricting ourselves from certain activities that others don’t give a second thought to. Meanwhile, the ungodly are enjoying life! This causes us to question: why am I trying so hard? Do my efforts even make a difference?
The prodigal son’s brother may have felt the same way upon hearing of the lavish welcome-back party held in his brother’s honor. He was the one who had toiled consistently and faithfully. But the one who left—the one who broke his father’s heart and wickedly squandered his father’s money—was rewarded upon returning! What then was the point of all those years he obediently served his father?
He was so focused on the fact that he never received a goat to enjoy with his friends that he neglected to see the bigger picture. As his father reminded him: “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). The father was willing to give him all that he had!
But the greater blessing was that the brother had the father himself. Because he stayed, the brother had the opportunity to enjoy his father’s company and ask for his advice anytime he wanted. He had the chance to truly know his father’s heart. He enjoyed a sense of belonging that others yearn for, and the security of being loved. Under his father’s care, he lacked nothing.
Sometimes we also forget that we are the ones who have the Father Himself. Others walk a long, hard way before they can experience the blessings we have access to. As the ones who stay, if we appreciate and utilize our time by our Lord’s side, our understanding of Him deepens and our experience of His grace becomes more rich and full with every passing day.