How Do We Live Like the Elder Brother?

In my last post, I made some observations from the parable of the prodigal son. In doing so, I highlighted the Gospel as the third way to live, with the other two ways to live being the way of the Relativist and the way of the Moralist. You can read my post here.

In the parable, the younger brother represents the Relativist, and to him everything is about self. The elder brother represents the Moralist, who lives outwardly for God, but inwardly his heart has not changed. In an effort to help us see how we live like the elder brother, so we can correct our thinking and actions, I want to ask and answer the question: How do we live like the elder brother?

We Act Like The Elder Brother:

When we believe we are saved by our works

  • This manifest itself in the following ways
    • We do this so, so we get salvation type thinking
    • When we do not think of our sin as being offensive to God.
    • When we think we are not that bad saying, “Sure Christ died for me, but I really was not that bad.”
    • Comparing ourselves to others saying “I needed God’s grace, but not as much as this person over here does. Look at their sin and look at mine.”

When we believe our works earn us favor with God

  • This manifest itself in the following ways:
    • We show up to church every time it is open thinking if we miss a service we are not in God’s favor.
    • When we believe we may get in a car wreck, or lose our job, or fail a class, or that one of our kids will not turn out right, if we are not consistent with our quiet times because somehow God will pay us back for not spending time with Him.
    • When we believe God will not use us or bless us if we are not reading His Word or doing Christian type activities often.

When we believe we must pay Christ back for our salvation

  • This manifests itself when we say things like: 
    • Christ died for you, witnessing to others is the least thing you can do for Him.
    • Christ suffered for you, the least you can do is read your Bible and pray to Him everyday.
    • Christ went to the cross for you, the least you can do for Him is go on a missions trip, part with some of your resources in order to help the church, or show up to services on Sunday.

When we believe God owes us for being such a good Christian.

  • This manifest itself when:
    • We do not receive the recognition we thought we should have received at church for helping with a ministry project, serving the church, attending regularly, and we get mad about it.
    • When we get jealous when another person who obviously has not done as much as we have gets recognized or asked to help with another ministry/task even though we said we wanted to serve as the chairman of that committee, teach that class, or serve those people.

The Christian disciplines mentioned throughout this post are good, but they can become corrupted when we believe they: 

  • Earn us salvation
  • Earn us favor with God
  • Become a way to pay Jesus back for what He has done for us
  • When they are done because we want to gain things such as recognition, or opportunity.

Should we stop coming to church, serving the body, doing our quiet time, praying, teaching a class, etc? 

  • No, we should not. The reasons we do them though should change.

2 thoughts on “How Do We Live Like the Elder Brother?

    1. That is a great question. I will be laying those out in a future post, but suffice it for me to say now that we live obediently because we have been saved, not in order to earn salvation, or favor with God.

      In addition, we are obedient to God because we desire Him and Him alone, recognizing His commandments to be the best thing for us.

      Not to mention we love Him and desire to glorify Him which is accomplished through obeying His commandments.

      I hope that answers your question. I will
      provide more in a future post.


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