(NOTE: This article is scheduled to appear in the April 29, 2009 edition of the Linn County News.)
In Luke 15, Jesus told a story about two brothers who lived radically different lives. One brother took his inheritance; went out into the world and squandered everything he had. He blew his money with wild living, and eventually found himself so hungry and destitute that the only job he could find was slopping hogs. And he was jealous of the food the pigs were getting.
The other brother stayed on the farm and worked hard helping his dad everyday. He lived a clean life and did what he was told to do. Eventually the younger brother came to his senses and returned home begging his Father’s forgiveness. He offers to go back to work as a hired hand, rather than enjoy the privilege of being a son. But the Father was overjoyed that his wayward son had returned and he had a feast to celebrate his lost son’s returning.
Ironically, the older brother didn’t share his Father’s joy. He was angry that such a fuss was made over the wicked son who had turned good. His pride wouldn’t let him rejoice in his brother’s new life. And his selfishness made him jealous of the gifts bestowed upon the younger brother.
All Christians should be able to see themselves in the younger brother. When you first become a Christian you are so happy at being forgiven and eternally saved. But sometimes, after you’ve been a Christian for a while, you may be in danger of becoming more like the older brother. What is your reaction to the wicked being saved? Do you rejoice because of the change in their life and thank God for showing them grace? Or do you quietly grumble about them because you don’t want them around?
The older brother had some good qualities, but he was so prideful that the good qualities were overshadowed by his self-righteousness and arrogance. The younger brother was originally very sinful, but was humbled to the point of brokenness and repentance. We shouldn’t try to emulate his sins, but we should be humble enough to realize our own sinfulness. Then we should turn to Jesus in repentance and faith and walk in the newness of life that was found by the younger brother. Pride kills. But humble repentance and faith in Christ saves. So kill the pride before the pride kills you. And trust in Jesus before it’s too late.