Meet Jealousy, the Prodigal Son's Brother

Remain the prodigal, desperate at the father’s feet. Not the brother, standing and too proud to celebrate.

Most of us have heard the story of the prodigal son. How he ran off with his inheritance, gambled, bought prostitutes with it, and lost it all to the point he was starving. Then he’s so hungry and desperate he runs home and falls at his father’s feet begging for mercy.

The father was not mad but welcomed him home with loving arms. He had the servants throw party and they ate steaks for dinner. Everyone was rejoicing because the lost was found and the son returned home. Then enters the brother of the prodigal son. This brother was so mad his father welcomed home such an imbecile and didn’t even scold him. The brother had worked hard all his life, was loyal to his father, and his father never made him goats cheese let alone steaks and a party! (Luke 5:28-30)

Anger is just a reaction to something else. This brother was jealous. He was hurt and he was jealous that a stupid, gambling, carousing man like the other son could come home and just receive better gifts than he had ever gotten! “That prodigal idiot doesn’t deserve that! I, the loyal brother, deserve the party and the best steaks!”

Have you ever felt like no one was praising you as much as when you first started? Have you found yourself resentful towards someone coming around and getting all the praise and you got none? Have you ever been jealous of someone else receiving bigger and better blessing than you when you felt like you deserved it?

How do you fix feeling like this? Let’s go back to the prodigal’s brother.

See the brother wanted his father to be all about him. He wanted his father to notice his loyalty, his commitment, his harvest, his care of the animals, his due diligence, his hard work, and his obedience. He wanted his father to be all about him and his business but he never realized he was supposed to be all about the father’s business. The brother couldn’t see his father’s business and first priority was loving his boys and just wanted them home with him to enjoy the fruits of being at home. The brother could only see his selfishness in wanting all the attention and affirmation. And when someone else, his idiot brother, was getting attention and blessed and loved on he raged with jealousy and anger.

God doesn’t want our hard work as much as he just wants us home. This perspective will keep our hearts in line with the father’s and we will JOIN in welcoming and praising others. When you find yourself jealous of someone else remember we are to be all about the father’s business, not our own.

Remain the prodigal, desperate at the father’s feet. Not the brother, standing and too proud to celebrate.