The parable of the prodigal son is a story in the Bible we’ve all heard time and time again, but there is a small detail within the passage that is often overlooked despite the significance of the message it contains. For those who need a reminder, in the parable, the younger brother decides to take his share of his inheritance in advance so that he can leave the house. He squanders all of his money and lives in poverty until he realizes that he can have a much better life if he returns to his father’s estate. His father greatly rejoices in his return, and to celebrate, he holds a feast and kills the fattest calf. When the older brother sees how much everyone is celebrating, he becomes angry out of jealousy. He exclaims that though he has been loyal to his father all his life, he was neither given a feast or even a small goat in return.
Much like the older brother, there have probably been instances where we too became jealous of others who have been greatly blessed despite their sinful pasts. There might be a person in your life who lived a life full of violence and hatred before, but now, as a Christian, is prospering in every aspect of their life. In contrast, you have been a Christian your entire life, but for some reason, it just doesn’t seem like you’re getting your deserved credit.
The problem is not in the unjust prosperity of the former sinners, but in our failure to recognize the prosperity that we already possess. It’s easy to notice when someone’s life is going well if it was previously unpleasant. Similarly, when we witness God’s amazing power of transformation in other’s lives, it’s easy to perceive our own lives as dull and sluggish. This is how the older brother felt when he says, “‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to…” (Luke 15:28 NIV). But the father’s response is remarkable. He explains to the older brother, “Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.” (Luke 15:31)
Notice that the father says “everything I have is yours”. For the Christians that have been loyal to God all along, God is telling you that His heavenly possessions have been yours all along too! The older brother could have grabbed a fat calf and hosted a feast for himself at any point if only he had realized that he had the right to do so. On the other hand, when the younger son left his father’s estate to live wildly, he no longer shared all those possessions with the Father as did the older brother; he only owned his share of the inheritance money.
Like the older brother, are we failing to realize our rights as a child of God? Instead of being jealous of other’s accomplishments and prosperity, claim it for yourself too! If everything God has is ours too, we can acquire far more than we could ever imagine!