A rage of anger and resentment welled up within him as he heard the the music and laughter from the party. He stood far enough at a distance where most of the guests wouldn’t see him. He was sure that his father was wrong this time. All these years he gave in to his father’s wish. He gave in to all the demands and arguments. Never once did he disobey. He was compliant and good.
Some more of the happy guests arrived and asked him “aren’t you coming in?” “Just a minute” he lied. Now he stepped away even further, angered by the silly smiles on the faces of the guests walking in to the party.
Then his father stepped out and began looking around. When the father finally spotted him, he quickly walked up to him and asked him to come in. But that request just escalated the resentment he felt. It was so wrong that he was faithful and obedient all these years, but now his younger brother, a disobedient, unruly rebel returns home and he is celebrated.
He firmly stood his ground and refused to go inside. His goodness and obedience kept him away from the father’s delight. He could have gone inside and enjoyed the party, but how could he? He was too good to go celebrate with such tainted rebells and those who reward them.
That story in Luke 15 ends with the older son still standing outside refusing to go in. He still held to his rightful demand that he was indeed better than his brother.
But for the father, it wasn’t a question of who is good or bad. He simply loved all his children. And when one is struggling a bit too much, his heart goes out to that one even more.
So the older brother remains outside unable to go in because he was obedient and good. His younger brother had left the house earlier because of his rebellion against his father and the family. Finally he ended up outside the home.
The obedience of the older brother coupled with the condition of his heart fueled arrogance. His arrogance was directed against his father and the family. And he also ended up “outside” the home, unable to come inside.
Obedience is good and necessary. But watch out for the condition of your heart that may use it to breed arrogance. This unfortunate condition will cause you to despise the love that the Father wants to shower on his children. That arrogance will pull you toward legalism and away from grace, away from the Father. And it is grace that is fundamental to our salvation by faith in Jesus.
So be obedient, but watch it! Don’t let it get to your heart.
What do you think about the problem with obedience?
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