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!