Returning sons are rarely a pretty sight. Often they’ve made a mess of things and our first inclination can be, at least in our heart, an “I told you so” or maybe “you should have known better”. However, let’s remember that it is not honorable nor spiritual to usurp the role of accuser of the brethren. We may commend ourselves for our “ministry” to them if we pray a nice prayer or buy them a hamburger. But the returning sons need the faithful sons to walk with them, encourage them, and remind them of the Father’s heart for them. They don’t need our things….they need our life, our time and our love. How many returning sons never made it all the way back home because of the disapproving looks of those who couldn’t forget the shame they brought to their Father’s house.
Don’t be ashamed to love them even if others disapprove. The Father isn’t ashamed of them and neither is Jesus. They are His brothers and He rejoices in that.
If necessary, bear the reproach of those that don’t understand and let God sort it all out in that day. It’s okay to be misunderstood. It’s okay to be wrongly judged. But it is not okay for your love to fail. Love them all the way home.
Luke 15: 25-32 Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, “Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.”‘
Much has been written about this other son. We despise him sufficiently, but let us make sure that his error does not become our own. At the bottom of it all, this older son is angry that the younger son is getting the benefits of sonship that he feels like he never received. And it makes him angry. I don’t blame him for being angry, but he was angry at the wrong person. The father made it clear that everything was his, but he was so busy working, working, working, that he never enjoyed the things that the father has already made available to him. If he had been a son that availed himself of all the benefits given by the father, his heart would have been so full that he would have rejoiced that his brother had returned because it made the father happy. What sweet fellowship could have been had if the older brother had joined him in watching for his brother’s return?
Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of getting angry and jealous over what somebody else is receiving from God. Go bury your face in the face of God until you are filled with every good thing He has for you…then join the Father in those things that rejoice His heart.
The Father is ever watching for the returning sons while we are busy with life. Maybe it would please His heart more if we skipped that religious activity we do out of obligation (whatever that might be in your life) and went out to meet some prodigal on his return trip home….shielding him from shame as he makes his way home to the Father. Assuring him that he is accepted, beloved and forgiven.
Luke 15:20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.”
This is such a beautiful picture of the Father’s heart for every prodigal….he never stopped longing for the son that had left him. He had been humiliated by this son, his goodness had been exploited, his love had been trampled on. But his heart yearned for him. I wonder if he went every day to gaze down the path his son had traveled when leaving…..scanning the horizon to see if this would be the day he would return home. How many days passed with no son returning? We aren’t told. But on the day the son returned, the father was watching. Intently watching. So much so that he saw him a great way off.
The world had been harsh to the boy and he was returning with his tail between his legs….broken by the life he had chosen. The son who had humiliated the Father now returned humiliated. How many neighbors must have seen him on the road as he traveled home? Their glaring disapproval must have disheartened him all the more. Shame is piled upon shame and humiliation upon humiliation. But the father saw the beloved son approaching, and unwilling for the boy to be humiliated any further he did the unthinkable….he picked up the skirt of his robe….and RAN. No respectable man runs. That is the activity of children. So the disapproving eyes are turned away from the son, now onto the father…as he ran to his son and embraced him, hiding him in his arms away from every condemning stare. The boy finished the rest of his journey home accompanied by the father, that very presence announcing to all who saw him – ACCEPTED! BELOVED! FORGIVEN!