Suggested Reading: Luke 15:11-32
The parable of the Prodigal Son is considered one of the greatest short stories of all time. The youngest of two sons demands an early inheritance then runs off and wastes it all. While feeding pigs in order to earn something to eat, the son realizes how far he has sunk and how much better life would be back with his father, even if he had to go back as a servant. So the son returns home, prepared to confess his sins and shortcomings only to discover that his father has been watching for him. Before he can finish confessing, the father has run out to him, hugged and kissed him, dressed him in finery and put a ring on his finger.
But the story doesn't end there. There is also the older brother, bitter from long years of service and a feeling of being under-appreciated, who refuses to join the celebration for his brother's return, an older brother who doesn't know what he has and doesn't appreciate that he was also given an early inheritance. This older brother is so focused on the wrongs committed by his younger brother that he doesn't notice the darkness in his own heart, and complains to his father, "Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!" (Luke 15:30, NLT). This older brother assumed the worst about his younger brother without ever being told. He may have been right but being right didn't help him enjoy life any better. In fact, the older brother seemed to be the only one not enjoying the party.
Too often we are so concerned with being right or getting our due that we miss out on the miracles occurring all around us. We want our prodigal brothers and sisters to suffer the consequences for their actions and somehow miss the miracle that they have come home.
Do you find yourself focusing on the negative or assuming the worst about people? You might be more prodigal than you think. No matter how far someone has strayed, God waits and watches for them to come home and celebrates when they do. Maybe we should wait, watch, and celebrate a little more, too.