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November 22 – I want your stuff, not you

“Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.” – Luke 15:29b

Scripture reading: Luke 15:28b-30; Philippians 3:3-11

Big Brother is rude to his father. He does not address him as “Father.” Instead, he says, “Look here, you!” His outburst reveals how he really feels about his father in the relationship. “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends” (Luke 15:29). The upshot: “I’ve slaved for you, but what have you ever given me? Instead, you give the good stuff to my messed-up brother who did nothing to deserve it.”

Little Brother and Big Brother were the same in one important way. Both wanted their father’s stuff instead of fellowship with him. They just took different paths to get it. Little Brother took the rebellious path. Big Brother took the religious path.

Big Brother is the church member who insists “I am justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.” However, his heart theology drives him to earn God’s blessings through external obedience. Then, when God doesn’t meet his expectations or answer his prayers, he says, “Look! All these years I have slaved for you, but you didn’t ________.” How might you fill in that blank? Might this, in part, explain the unwelcome anger and resentment that arise in your heart?

Let’s go back to the gospel. “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20b).

Suggestions for prayer

Thank our Father for His free, unearned gifts of forgiveness, righteousness and adoption. Ask Him for grace to enjoy Him and those gifts.

Rev. Richard Zekveld is the pastor of the Covenant Fellowship Church (PCA) in South Holland, Illinois, a Chicagoland suburb. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.


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