Then the father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” Luke 15:31–32
It can be very difficult to be the good child. You can feel forgotten, as attention and concern is lavished on wayward siblings. When the will is read and the estate is divided evenly between the white and black sheep of the family, being the good child doesn’t appear to have any benefits. In fact, when the family gathers and begins to reminisce about the past, it is the bad deeds that everyone survived that are remembered and laughed about. Whereas the good deeds that were done day in and day out seem to be forgotten entirely.
It must have irritated the Pharisees that Jesus focused so much of his attention on sinners, tax collectors, and people of ill repute. Why didn’t Jesus take note of their good deeds? Why didn’t they receive applause and recognition for their efforts? Why did the wayward siblings of the house of Israel capture so much of Jesus’ interest and devotion? Is there no benefit in doing what is right and good and trying to live in ways that please God? Yes. Good sons and daughters never have to endure separation from their parent. They never find themselves groveling in a pigsty. They don’t die with unresolved relational issues plaguing their heart. They may not get the big homecoming party thrown in their honor, but they do get to enjoy the love and embrace of family each and every day of their lives.
Whose homecoming do you begrudge?
Lord, I try to do what is good and right, and it irks me when I see undeserving people celebrated as if they are favorite sons and daughters. It just doesn’t seem fair—somehow the more faithful the person, the bigger the party should be, in my opinion. But in my bitterness, I often forget that I am blessed to know your goodness every day of my life. I have not had to endure being lost, and I have not had to live separated from your love. As I begrudge your generosity toward others, I also forget that if anyone deserves a party thrown in their honor, it is you. Please forgive me for my hardness of heart. And thank you for allowing me to live by your side. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.