Luke 15:31-32. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
A Little Pharisee in All of Us
The elder son, in the story of this parable, is often thought of as the one with a bad attitude. There is no doubt this is the case. But at the same time, he tried to stay in the father’s house all those years and obey his commandments; albeit, probably not with the best heart at times. This was a “teachable moment” in his life. Though it does not say the elder son actually got right about his bad attitude, the father did say he would ever be with him, and that everything that was left would be his, not his brother’s. There is not a one of us who does not get a little “Pharisee” in themself that needs to be cleaned out once in a while. I think that is what happened here with the elder son. He started to get too high an opinion of himself and needed to learn a lesson in compassion and forgiveness.
Letting the Pharisee Build Up
The elder brother probably had to bear the brunt of the extra work on the farm when his younger brother took off. Instead of praying for his brother to get right, he got a bad attitude and an unforgiving spirit. That built up over the years and likely all came out at once when the younger brother showed up at the house. Often, bad attitudes and unforgiving spirits build up without us realizing it, at times. When we fail to recognize them, they tend to come out all at once and at the most inopportune times. We need to make sure we don’t let the “Pharisee” build up in us. We need to remember that the pit the Lord found us in is no different, even though the mud may be a different color or texture.
Getting the Pharisee Out of Yourself
The elder brother may have had a bad attitude here but he did not lose his inheritance. He stayed in the father’s house. We have a merciful father that tries to help us along. If the elder brother had not stayed in the father’s house, I do not believe he would have had this opportunity to do right and get right. The father knew that he would eventually get his heart right or he never would have said the inheritance was all his. We often do not get everything straightened out in our hearts right away, either. It takes a long time to get the “Pharisee” out of us. It may be late in life when we actually grow enough to realize how much Pharisee there really is in us. We need to have the humble and forgiving spirit like the father. His age and experience showed a humble and forgiving spirit that he had learned through many trials and tribulations in raising two boys. That is something that comes with age, like the father had, and the elder son was still learning. He had learned to have mercy because God had mercy with him. Hopefully, the elder brother eventually figured it out.