Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.Luke 15:25-32
I have seen far too many “other brothers” in my life, and I fear that I have been guilty of being one myself.
Here are some traits of the “other brother” that we should look out for in our own lives.
He is unthankful for the blessings that he has. Remember, the father divided his goods between both of his sons before the younger one left home. Also, consider this. Under Jewish tradition, this older brother would have received twice as much as his younger brother! He was so concerned about what his brother was getting that he forgot that he had the blessings of his father all along. Yes, he had them, but was he enjoying them? It seems not. We should recognize that every day is a gift from our heavenly Father and enjoy our inheritance in Him with every breath we take, every word we speak, and every step we make.
The other brother is also very judgmental. He does not rejoice that his brother has repented and come home. He wastes his time self-justifying to show that he had been the better son. Here is the deal – they were both the man’s sons! We do not have a personal claim to all that God has. In fact, anything we have from Him, we inherit by grace and mercy not by merit. We need to not whine when we see God blessing other people. Perhaps we have too low a view of God’s ability to bless? Let us not forget His storehouse of mercy is endless!
Perhaps the other brother is even a little jealous? I mean, he does know quite a few details of how his brother lived in sin. Jealousy of others sinful lives is a dangerous thing to covet!
And finally, consider the fact that when the older brother heard the party going on, he did not go inside to find out what was going on. He called out someone who was in the celebration to question him. This man was so self-centered that he drew someone else away from rejoicing with the father to ask him questions. This is perhaps the most overlooked part of the story but could be the worst detail! When we discourage worship, repentance, forgiveness, or fellowship, we are acting like the other brother.
We should each examine our personal behaviors and the behavior of our churches in this light. Remember, we are all prodigals. But are we acting like the father or the other brother?
Our churches need to be safe havens of forgiveness, healing, and mercy. They should be cities of refuge for those who need the Lord.
We do not know how the other brother reacted to his father’s rebuke, but we do know this. If his next action was forgiveness, then he enjoyed the party and the fellowship of his father. If he acted in unforgiveness, he remained a prodigal himself! And that is a lonely place to be.
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.Matthew 6:14-15