Father Of The Lost 3 — Free Blessings
Chan Gin Kai
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” (Luke 15:25-32)
Our first article of this series, “Father Of The Lost”, explores the potential of free will to bring about immense beauty or pain. Our second article studies how free grace allows us to return to our Father without shame. This third one examines God’s generosity with His free blessings.
God Isn’t Calculative
Not everyone was happy with the return of the younger son.
Instead of rejoicing with his father and younger brother, the older son got upset. The father saw the return of a lost son, but the older son saw a threat. His younger brother had already squandered off his own share of the inheritance. Calculative thoughts must have ruminated in his mind. Won’t everything father spends on my sinful brother from now on eat into my share? Will my useless brother get a share of inheritance again when father dies? Since my worthless brother has used up his inheritance, do I need to care for his needs when father is no longer around?
The older son’s calculative nature was apparent. He compared himself to his younger brother as he questioned his father… “I’ve been slaving for you”, but younger brother “squandered your property with prostitutes”… “you never even gave me a young goat”, but “you kill the fattened calf for him!”
In his eyes, the older son felt he was better, and deserved more.
The Pharisees were self-righteously calculative with the “tax collectors and sinners”, and they criticised Jesus for not doing the same (Luke 15:2). They thought they were righteous and thus more deserving. It is not surprising that it’s usually those who think they’re better and more deserving that get calculative.
And those who are self-righteous are also the ones who are more miserable. The older son felt that working with his father was “slaving for you”. The Pharisees were a miserable bunch too.
Do we consider righteousness a work or a joy? Do we see it as a natural act of love for our Father, or the means to please a demanding Master? Do we enjoy what we do as Christians? The self-righteous can never be happy.
The father replied the older son, “everything I have is yours”. The son thought that everything belonged to the father, and the father hadn’t given him anything. But the father always regarded all that he has as the son’s property too. They belonged to the son as much as they belonged to him.
The older son needn’t even have waited for his father to give him a goat, the flocks and herds and broods were all his too. He could have taken a goat and celebrated with his friends anytime he wanted to. He was calculative with others and imagined his father to be calculative with him.
God is not calculative with us.
Everything that God has is ours. Eden was created for Adam and Eve to enjoy with Him, and Heaven is created for us. God has no need for Eden or Heaven. God didn’t create them for Himself, but allows us to have a taste if we’ve proven ourselves good enough. He created Heaven for us. We’ll only need to stay with Him.
Oh yes, we NEED to stay with God to enjoy all that He wants to bless us with. The father wanted his property to be enjoyed by his sons. But the younger son chose to leave (at first) and suffered as a result. The older son had incredible blessings right in front of him but couldn’t even enjoy them because he wasn’t emotionally and spiritually with his father.
Heaven has enough space for all of us. God has enough love, enough grace and enough blessings to bestow us. He is not calculative with us, and wants us to enjoy His peace and share in His joy. How do we respond to His blessings?
God Is Always With Us
When the older son grumbled about the things he never received from his father, the first thing that the father said in reply was, “My son, you are always with me”.
The older son didn’t get a young goat (or so he thought), but he had his father. Imagine how the father must have felt: You’ve got me with you, but you’re complaining that you didn’t get a baby goat?
The father was the epitome of love and patience. Imagine all the good times the older son could have enjoyed with his father. He missed the boat for the goat.
What’s more important to you? Your wife or your wife’s cooking? Your child or your child’s school examination results? God or the blessings He can give you?
God is always with us. Do we take delight in His presence, or do we long after the worldly and the trivial?
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
I love this verse for the elegance of its poetry, and even more importantly, for the beauty of its promise. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. It is as persistent as it is powerful, as enduring as it is endearing.
We long and pray for blessings, and grumble when we think we do not get them. We forget that God has already given us Himself, the biggest of all blessings. We miss His presence for His presents, the boat for the goat.
God has blessed us freely and abundantly. He’s given us Himself and His son, Jesus Christ. What more can we ask for? How much do we even appreciate Him?
Read more about ‘Father Of The Lost’ and 'Slave Or Son':
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.