“And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.”
The main truth that is often gleaned from the story of the prodigal son is how sin leaves a person who rebels against God. There is no doubt that the prodigal found out the price of sin the hard way. When he found himself desiring to eat the slop of the swine is when he finally realized that his dad was right and he was wrong. The rebellion and disdain that he showed his dad before he left had to be glaring in his mind as he looked at the slop of the swine and saw his heart was no better than that slop.
One can only imagine what was going through the mind of the prodigal as he took the long journey back home. No doubt, every step he took towards home made him wonder what his father would do when he saw him. The prodigal had everything planned in his mind of what he would do when he came back to his father, but to his surprise, his father accepted him as he always had, as a son.
The truth often missed in this story is the response of the elder son who stayed with his father. When the elder son came back from a long day of work, he heard music and dancing and wondered what happened while he was away. He asked someone the cause of everything going on, and he learned that his younger brother had come back home. His response to the younger brother return is somewhat understandable, but it was wrong, and it revealed the heart of the elder brother. The elder brother’s unforgiving attitude revealed his heart. It revealed areas of his own life that he had not gotten right. As long as his brother lived in rebellion, he had an excuse to be cold-hearted towards those who lived a rebellious life. The elder brother’s unforgiving attitude revealed his own rebellion towards God.
My friend, why is it that you would not be happy about someone coming back to God? Could the reason that you are not happy about a backslidden believer coming back be that their repentance towards their sin reveals that lack of your unforgiveness? The mirror of unforgiveness reveals your heart to everyone. The fact that you won’t forgive someone who has come back to God shows that you are not as good as you have tried to portray to others. As long as the prodigal believer lives in their sin, you feel that you have an excuse to do your sin that is “not real bad.” Let me point out a couple of thoughts that you need to think about.
First, your sin is just as bad as the sin of those who are living in “deep” sin. We have somehow classified sin as bad and good. We look at others and condemn them for their sin because it is bad, but we look at our sin and think it is not that bad because it is our sin. My friend, God looks at ALL sin as bad. You may not be facing the slop of the swine that the prodigal faces, but you must realize that your sin is just as disgusting to God as the one leaves church to live a worldly life.
Second, unforgiveness is as evil as the deepest sin that any believer may commit. The fact that you won’t forgive someone says that God’s forgiveness is not great enough to forgive the fallen believer. Don’t be like the elder brother who becomes angry when a fallen brother returns, because the only thing you are doing is revealing your evil heart.