As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are many layers to this well-known parable. For starters, just look at all of people involved, at least the principal players. While I usually think of the relationship between the wayward son and his father, lately I’ve been thinking about the older brother. He’s been hard working, loyal, faithful, and deserving, and yet his kid brother comes back from his “fun” escapades and is given a feast…and this dutiful son isn’t even told about it. He happens to hear music and laughter and has to ask a servant what’s going on. Being human, he feels jealous, resentful, and perhaps a little forgotten. The scriptures tell us that he was angry, so angry that he didn’t join the party.
“What about me? Aren’t I important?” Were these the questions he asked himself? Aren’t we all just a little like this? What is it that whispered to him (to all of us) that somehow what another person gets or has takes away from what we have? Why do these situations make us feel less worthy, loved, or deserving? We need to remember that we’re all children of a Heavenly Father who loves us. We’re all heirs to the kingdom, and what another person has takes nothing from us unless we allow it to.
There’s enough for everyone, something Stephen Covey calls the abundance mentality. When we see others with more fame, fortune, love, prestige, money, success, or popularity and allow ourselves to feel diminished, we’re operating according to what Covey calls the scarcity mentality. Not fun. Not good for our self-concepts. Still, we’re human, and like the prodigal’s brother, sometimes it hurts.
At times like that we need to remember that all He has is ours. As the father of the two sons reminds his elder one, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”