(Luke 15:11-32) The two sons were different in many ways and yet they made so many of the same mistakes. Neither son understood the heart of his father, and both were rebellious. The younger son was a non-conformist, impulsive, and risk-taker. The older son was traditional, calculated, and cautious. But here are three areas where both sons misunderstood their father.
Both of the sons had a bad attitude toward money. The younger son looked at money selfishly seeing it as a way of buying his personal happiness. The older son was afraid he would lose what he had. The younger son wasted it! “Give me the portion of good that falls to me.” “Not many days after the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions.”
The older son hoarded it. The father “divided to them his livelihood,” and yet the older son complained, “You never gave me a young goat.” This wasn’t true. The father had divided everything he owned between his two sons.
Neither of the boys saw money as a way of investing in eternal rewards. The father saw money as a tool to bless others. He unselfishly used his money to minister to his family. The question we must ask ourselves is how do we view money? Does money serve us or are we serving money?
The younger son saw his father as serving him and refused to submit to his father’s authority. We don’t find him seeking his father’s counsel, but rather demanding what he believed was rightfully his. “The younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country.”
The older son looked submissive working in the fields, but inwardly he resented his father. His rebellion was revealed when his younger brother returned home and received his father’s blessing. “He was angry and would not go” into the house. “Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.” The older son stubbornly replied, “I never transgressed your commandment at any time.” He was transgressing his father’s will when he said those words. What he actually meant was, “I never did what my brother did, therefore I am better than him.” “As soon as son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.” Neither son loved his brother. The older son refused to even call him his brother saying, “This son of yours.”
There is nothing in this story to indicate if either of the boys married. The younger son was too busy partying to develop serious relationships, and the older son was too busy working in the field to get married. Both of the boys were making a serious mistake because without family there is no future.
Both of these sons had faulty belief systems. They both viewed their father as a source of resources rather than a faithful loving relationship. The younger son loved the inheritance money, and the older son loved the farm. Neither of them loved their father.
Both sons believed their father owed them something. The younger son thought because his father had plenty that he was entitled to it. Give me what you have. He imprudently demanded his inheritance before his father’s death. He sounded much like a prosperity preacher demanding God’s blessings. The prosperity preacher only talks about grace and faith; forgetting that God is also holy and just. God is a wonderful heavenly Father but He owes us nothing. He has already blessed us more than we deserve.
The older son believed his father owed him something because he had kept the rules. He believed he had earned his inheritance and was angry because his father had given the fatted calf to his less deserving brother. He sounded much like a legalistic preacher who believes his good works earn him favor with God. The legalist forgets that God is a God of mercy and grace. He becomes angry when God blesses someone he thinks is unworthy forgetting that none of us is worthy of the least of God’s blessings.