DO YOU HAVE OLDER BROTHER DISEASE?

Luke 15 tells the story of the Prodigal Son. It’s a story about a son who chooses to leave his father, his home and go live a life of sin. It’s also an amazing story of grace when the son returns home. The story of the Prodigal Son has been taught, preached and loved for years.

The part of the story that we often like to forget is the story of his older brother at the end of the chapter. It’s the story where the older brother refuses to celebrate his younger brother’s return. We don’t like this story because it’s the part in the story that many of us play everyday. It’s a role that is just as dangerous spiritually as the role of the “lost” or prodigal son.

“Older Brother Disease” is a terrible spiritual sickness that can only be cured by repentance, softening your heart to God’s word and understanding God’s amazing grace. You may have the spiritual disease and not even realize it? How do you know if you have “older brother disease?” Here are some symptoms …

  • Do you question others motives when they repent of their sin?
  • Do you refuse to celebrate when one returns from being lost?
  • Do you continue to hold their sin against them even though they’ve asked for forgiveness?
  • Do you treat them differently because of their past sin?
  • Do you consider their sins worse in God’s eyes than your sins?
  • Do you question if God’s grace is able to forgive them fully?
  • Do you feel God likes you better because you’ve never publicly sinned?
  • Do you feel that you’ve earned your love and acceptance from God because of your faithfulness?
  • Do you think when someone repents they ought to be on “spiritual probation” till they prove their worthy to once again work in the church?

If you answered yes to any of these … you may have “older brother disease!” But let me be real honest with you… I have had it before. I don’t know how many spiritual parties and celebrations I missed because I was questioning God’s ability to forgive. I still struggle with it sometimes. Just about the time I think I have it whipped, it rears its ugly head again. The thing that really helped me overcome my “older brother” sickness is when I began to realize just how AMAZING God’s grace really is. Think about it …

  • David – Committed two of the biggies (adultery & murder) and yet was still a man after God’s own heart. Amazing!
  • Manasseh – The most evil king that ever ruled Israel. What did he do? He sacrificed his own son on an altar to a foreign god. He took the lives of God’s prophets and literally laughed in God’s face. But at the end of his life when God punishes Manasseh for his sin, Manasseh decides to repent. And you won’t believe it, but God forgives him. What? God forgave him? Yep! I couldn’t believe it either. Amazing!
  • Jonah – Want to know why Jonah jumped a boat in the opposite direction of Nineveh? Because he knew “God was merciful and would forgive,” and he didn’t want God to do that. Amazing!
  • The Woman at the Well – She was married five times and was shacking up with another man when she met Jesus. Yet Jesus found her incredibly important and salvation worthy. Amazing!
  • The Woman caught in Adultery – Sadly, had I been there, I would have probably been holding a stone. But Jesus told her, “Is there no one here to condemn you? Then neither do I condemn you, go and leave your life of sin.” Amazing!
  • The Thief on the Cross – One of the greatest stories of God’s amazing grace ever, but I missed it most of my life because I was too busy arguing about the thief’s salvation.

Don’t be the older brother. If you have the disease, admit it and ask God to forgive you. Let’s realize that no matter how good we are, we are all saved by God’s grace! And, let’s forgive those whom God has forgiven.

Now, there’s a party going on out there and you’re missing it. So, let’s get in there and celebrate!

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
15 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow/mjc

  2. Anonymous says:

    Amen Trey!! I am enjoying your blog daily. Keep on encouraging! E.E.S.

  3. Robert Lukenbill says:

    that is such a great point Trey! To err is human, to forgive is divine. For some reason we have a hard time forgiving our brethren of their sins. Even our elders should be forgiven when they sin, hey even our preachers too! however, when a preacher sins i notice that many will fire them and cut their throats by moving them. Let’s try to be like the father and not the brother in this parable.

    WWJD

  4. Greg says:

    I’m much better at forgiving than when I was younger! Maybe experience in God’s grace has a lot to do with that. What I like about the story of the woman at the well is that this five time divorcee (sp?) became the first gospel missionary! Good thoughts, as always, Trey.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Don’t be the older brother.

    We all suffer from this! :)

    Enugh Said! :)

    Brandon Voss

  6. Rex Boyles says:

    What a remarkable thought – “to forgive those whom God has forgiven”.

    Please include my name among those who deserved the righteous wrath of God’s judgment – but desperately needed (need) His mercy and grace. Thank God with me for those who welcomed me home and did not act like the older brother.

    After reading your diagnosis of “older brother disease” I started thinking … while it is best for folks like me to “ignore” the older brother(s) … it is also helpful to able to recognize them (in order to avoid them) and to resist getting the disease myself. Thank you for your list of questions and the spirit that lives in you and is expressed in your life and teaching.

  7. TREY MORGAN says:

    Rex,

    And I’m thankful for those who have NOT played the older brother in your life, but have played more the part of the father in the story of Luke 15.

    I’m honored that you’ve stopped by my blog and I’m blessed to have you for a friend.

  8. Di says:

    I might have a difficult time being an older brother but sister I could manage. :-) I think I lost that complex a very long time ago as I dealt with the sexual violation.

    Good things do come from bad. I sometimes wonder if I would have stayed a stuck up, judgmental, goody two shoes, had I not faced the abuse.

    I saw myself as such a sinner and found such enormously wonderful grace from God that it changed me.

    I see that change every day I work with kids. They see it too, though they have no clue where it originates. They just experience the grace and love.

    Di

  9. preacherman says:

    Trey,
    Great post brother.
    I am so thankful for the grace of God and the blessing that He gives us through Jesus Christ. I costantly pray to God to help me not judge the hearts and motives of others but to show others the love, mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope you enjoy the lectures. I wish I could be there with you. I am going to be buying Wade Hodges CD & Jeff Wallings CD.

  10. One Observationist says:

    Great thoughts Trey. I’ve had the disease too. But thankfully I’ve been able to shrug most of it off. Sometimes I still struggle with it though.

    You mentioned David and every time I think about him I have to think about how lucky we are to have a God that forgives. David did some serious nasty stuff and God still accepted him and loved him. That should make all believers feel good even in the pit of their mistakes.

  11. Kasia, Warsaw, Poland says:

    Thank you Trey, you just helped me to fix a situation with my co-worker – God used you to teach me a great lesson. May God bless you! Kasia

  12. Anonymous says:

    TREY!! TREEEEEEEEYYYY???
    Dude?

    it’s 3:30 p.m. eastern time on a monday and you have yet to post.

    are you okay?

    i hope you are spending time with family or something. we will begin a candlelight vigil in anticipation of your return.

    God bless you. Are you trapped in a well? should we send lassie?

  13. NB says:

    Did Mrs. C get you?

  14. Dee O'Neil Andrews says:

    This is an EXCELLENT post, Trey. Thank you so much for taking the time to post it.

    Having been the target of others’ bad attitudes (and this was through a divorce, not a public confession or anything), I learned the worst about the “older brother” disease and know that it is VERY real. It was a horrible experience to go through in the church I was in (which just happens to have been here where Tom and I live now, but things have greatly changed for the better in the church here since that time some 20 years ago).

    However, such things still DO go on today as I know firsthand from a good blogging friend who wrote me just last night about her turmoil through a horrible divorce and church involvement of the worst kind. It’s out in Texas, too, not all that far from where you live!

    May we all have loving hearts that mirror God’s . . .

    Dee

    of Finding Direction: The Wind Vane Chronicles

  15. TREY MORGAN says:

    Thanks for sending Lassie … I WAS stuck in a well :)

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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