The Other Son

We are familiar with the story shared by our Lord of what we  have come to know as the story of the prodigal son.  The part of the story we don’t talk about often has to do with the other son.  We don’t discuss this son as much.  Truth is this son is very similar to many of us today.

When the prodigal son returns we find the other son in the field working.  It is largely because of the other son’s efforts that the farm remains. The other son is the brother we would most want our daughters to marry.  We could count on the other son to take care of all obligations including our daughter.  This is just the way he was.  In spite of the good qualities of the other brother there were still problems in his life.  The primary problem was much like many in the religious world today.  This son was depending on his goodness to justify him in the father’s eyes.  He demanded justice instead of grace.  He believed he had lived good enough to count on justice. Notice his reaction when he learns of his brother’s return.  He tells the father, “I have been here slaving for you.  I have never disobeyed and you never killed the fatted calf for me or my friends.”  He didn’t want grace for the returning brother, he wanted justice.

Lets look at some things we learn from the other son:

  • Being good doesn’t make the bad go away.  The other son had a bad attitude and all the good works in the world would not solve this.  Bad attitudes and bad deeds cannot be cancelled by good works.
  • The lifestyle of the other son tends to demand justice.  The last thing we need is justice.  More than anything else in the world we need grace from the Father.
  • The life of the other son leaves no room for those who are different.  The lost do not concern those like the other son because they see them as less than they really are.  Since they can’t match the goodness of the other son they aren’t  viewed as being worth our efforts. If they want what we have let them do as we do and work to get what they need.
  • The life of the other son tends to build a separate standard of acceptability.  This was the problem with the Pharisees.  They were trusting in their own abilities to understand scripture.  Their idea was that in order to be accepted by God you must see all exactly like they saw Scripture.  Their view of Scripture had become the standard instead of Scripture being the standard.  After all they held the “correct view”.
  • The life of the other son allowed no room for humility.  His whole life was built around the concept of complete and perfect understanding and actions.  He would never been able to get his head around the concepts taught in James 4:10.
  • The other son’s lifestyle developed a different attitude from the attitude of the father.  The father was looking to restore fellowship with His son.  He wants to bring everyone under His roof.  The other son was looking for a reason to exclude the returning brother.  The father wanted to draw as many as possible into His circle while the son who was seeking to be justified by works was looking for a reason to keep those who were different out of his circle.  The father and the other son held a very different attitude about who belonged in the circle of fellowship.

There are a number of other conclusions that could be drawn from this story.  These are enough for us to understand that we don’t talk so much about the other son because he makes us uncomfortable.  This other son often times is much like those of us who seek God today.  Think on these things.

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4 Responses to The Other Son

  1. Wayne McDaniel says:

    Dell,
    You have expressed some insights into the familiar parable that describe many believers. Seeing ourselves can soften and change our hearts. For too long a number of the descriptions you gave described me. It is true for all of us: the kindness of God has led us to repentance (Rom.2:4).

    “Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” – Thomas `a Kempis

    “I’ve learned also that I do not maintain the disciplines of prayer adequately by myself, and that I MUST pray regularly with others.” – Leonard Allen, 1994

  2. Royce says:

    Thanks for an eye opening post.

  3. preacherman says:

    Dell,
    Great thoughts brother.
    I love reading your blog.
    Keep up the great work.
    Thanks for challenging us!!
    Have a great day.

  4. Guys thanks for your good words. God bless your work.

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