You can find the parable of the lost son, or prodigal son, in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 15. In summary, though, a father has two sons. The oldest son does all he has been asked to do and stays with his father even when the younger son leaves. The younger son doesn’t just leave, he has a major chip on his shoulder. He tells his father, “You’re dead to me!” in so many words, and demands his inheritance early as if his father were really dead. Then after so long, that rotten little spoiled brat comes home. That father is so pleased and throws this amazing party for him with all the finest things to show his son how much he loves him.
Um… in the real world, I would call that enabling. I’ve seen this scenario before, a son gets addicted to drugs and is completely horrible to his family. Then one day shows up because he needs help. The family gives him all the love and support he can muster, until he is off again to a new form of drug or what-have-you. Yep! I just did that! I compared the prodigal son to a drug user, and I’m not ashamed. Here’s why!
First off this parable is about Jesus’ love for us. It is a clear message telling us there is NOTHING we can do to be turned away by our Father in Heaven. He wants us to be with Him always. He wants to celebrate our return to the church as many times as we need. What a great message to everyone, because everyone has sinned, and some of us have been terrible human beings whether or not we’ll admit it. I hope you all know God’s love in this form, or at the very least you’ll feel it someday soon.
Here’s what I didn’t like about the story. The eldest son was there! He was there for his father working hard, putting in the hours, building a lifetime relationship with his father and he didn’t get a party. He didn’t have this “tell the world how much my son means to me” experience with his father. That’s not fair, right?
Well what does fair really mean anyway? Does fair really mean even?
Here’s what’s sensible. The older son, the one who is smart enough not to throw away his father’s love, was never mistreated. His life was wonderful while he was at home before and after his brother left. He earned fair wages, he had a roof over his head, and up until the prodigal son’s return he was happy right where he was. Nothing changed on his end of the deal. It isn’t practical to be jealous.
I’m sure you’re not really convinced, so let me try another approach. Let’s say someone gives you $20 for running their mail to the post office (you probably had to go there anyway). Wow! That’s awesome, thanks, now I can go grab a nice lunch! Now, for perspective purposes, you just found out that same person was gifted $100,000 because of that errand you did for them and only gave you $20. That doesn’t seem quite fair, right? You did the work, and you didn’t get a bigger cut? What?!
Stop that! You still got an unexpected $20. Even if you only got $10 you still had more money than before, so what’s your problem? Are you entitled to more? No. Then why are you suddenly ungrateful? Why, because you’re jealous of them having more than you.
You’re jealous of someone having more than you!