Devotional from Mike Smith

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In the parable of the prodigal son, we often focus on the prodigal son himself and his journey of repentance and forgiveness. But what about the older brother? He stayed home, worked hard, and obeyed his father. Yet when his brother returned home, he was angry and resentful.

Why did the older brother feel this way? He may have felt that his brother was getting away with his sins. He may have felt that his own hard work and obedience were not being appreciated. Or he may have simply been jealous of the attention and love that his brother was receiving.

Whatever the reason, the older brother’s attitude was wrong. He was focused on himself and his own grievances, instead of on the joy of his brother’s return. He had forgotten that his father loved them both equally.

The older brother’s attitude is a reminder that we can also be tempted to be jealous, resentful, and unforgiving. We may feel that we deserve more than others, or that we are not being treated fairly. But the truth is, God loves us all equally, and He wants us to forgive and love others just as He forgives and loves us.

This is the character I identified with most in the Bible. I used to believe that for someone to succeed, someone else must fail. Isn’t this what competition teaches us? Look out for number one. I win, you lose, you win, I lose. With the brother of the prodigal son, he did everything right and felt like he didn’t get anything, while the brother took everything, lost it, and then received a huge reward for it. There was a time I would have been just as upset as the brother. But what does the father say to him? Verse 31 reads: “My son,” the father said, “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”

I’ve come to learn what the abundant love of God really means. There isn’t a “pie” where we all get a slice and if you get a bigger piece I have to get a smaller piece. We’ve spoken of God’s infinite love so many times that I think we forget what the word infinite truly means. Boundless. No beginning, no end. I now have the ability to rejoice in your victories without being jealous because your victories can also be my victories.  You’re winning, doesn’t mean my losing.

Is there someone in your life right now who needs your forgiveness or love?  Are you jealous of “that person” who always seems to have everything go their way when you are struggling?  Release it.  Pray for them.

Matthew 5:43-45 reads:

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.