Slave Or Son 2 - The Father
Updated: Jun 1
Hugh de Burgh
“But the older son became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and appealed to him, but he answered his father, ‘Look! These many years I have worked like a slave for you, and I never disobeyed your commands. Yet you never gave me even a goat so that I could celebrate with my friends! But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’
Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and everything that belongs to me is yours. It was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost and is found’”.
In our last article, we studied the older brother of the Prodigal Son, and saw how he had a "slave mindset” towards his loving father. Today, we shall learn more about the father.
The Heart Of The Father
At the party to celebrate the return of the younger prodigal son, the father noticed that the older son was not around. Contrary to what the older son assumed, he was important to the father. The father has always seen him and all that he did. Do we believe that God sees us all the time? We may feel neglected, forgotten or unappreciated. The fact is, we matter to God, and He loves us.
The father was the host of the party, and the younger son was the “guest of honour”, but he “came out” to get his older son. He could have sent a servant, but he didn’t. His heart for the older son is the same as that for his younger son. God came down personally, as a man, to die for our sins. If that doesn’t convince us that He loves us, what will?
Contrary to the older son’s accusation that the father commands, he personally approached his son and “appealed to him”. He didn’t want obedience, he wanted his son’s heart. That’s what God wants from us too. Yes, our obedience is appreciated, but what God really wants is our heart. And the Almighty God appeals to us.
The father didn’t call the older son, “servant” or “slave”, like how the older son accused of being treated. Instead, the father called him “son”. The father let slide all the times that his son was disobedient, especially this time. Instead, he tackled the core of the problem — the older son’s thought that he was unloved. Is that the core of our problem too? Do we really get it, that we are God’s children? We are not merely His creations, or servants, or subjects. We are His beloved children.
The father reminded the older son of what’s most important, “You are always with me”. Isn’t spending time with a loving father more important than anything else? But he craved to be with his friends outside the family. Perhaps he might even have secretly longed for what his younger brother did. What do we see as most important? The world seduces us with a myriad of deceptive pleasures, but the ultimate joy is found with God. Do we rejoice that we are always with God?
The father explained to the son, “everything I have is yours”. That’s how the father has always felt, but that’s not what the older son realised. The things we do as Christians are not to earn a wage or reward from God. Everything God has is ours. We are “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17)!
The Father’s Purpose Becomes The Sons’
I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father. (John 15:15)
While slaves won’t know the family business, the father would have taught his son all about it. It is to the son’s benefit if the business succeeds, as the business belongs to the son too.
As a father, I want my sons to take on my heart for God and His kingdom, I want them to have a heart to love people and to do good in the world.
Our Heavenly Father has laid out His heart to see people saved. In the same sermon to the crowd, Jesus preached about the parables of The Lost Coin, The Lost Sheep, and The Lost Son. Each of these parables ended with a celebration when what was lost was found again. God has a heart to build His family, His kingdom, His church! This is what causes our Father to rejoice!
But when we have a slave mindset, our view of others get skewed.
Like the older brother, we may look down on those who don’t work as hard as us, or whom we arrogantly consider to be less righteous that we are. When we stop enjoying our relationship with our Father, our love for others diminishes too. Trust that God has not forgotten us, and remember that we are His heart’s delight.
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Let’s enjoy our relationship with God. He delights in us, but do we delight in Him? He rejoices over us in song, do we do the same for Him?
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on His law day and night.
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Did the older brother go in after his father’s appeal? We don’t know and so we’re left with an unanswered question. But the more important question is, will I go in? Will I join in my Father’s banquet of grace and fellowship and enjoy the sonship with the Father? Or will I stay outside, feeling like an entitled slave?
Read more about ‘Slave Or Son’ and ‘Father Of The Lost’:
Hugh de Burgh
Working as a software architect in AgTech, I serve with my wonderful wife Sonia and two boys Asher (3) and Jesse (11) as a deacon in the Sydney Church of Christ. I am so grateful to the brothers and sisters of the Central Christian Church. Your openness and love refreshed my heart as a young disciple from Sydney who came to work in Singapore in 1998, barely able to pray. Your ongoing friendship and faith continue to inspire me and call me higher!