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REMEMBER the parable of the Merciful Father (more commonly known as the Prodigal Son)?

Remember the attitude of the older brother in the parable? His resentment was a terrible poison for the soul.

So what’s the cure?

I’ve read this parable many times, but the meaning was not as obvious as I thought it was.

When resentment invades my thoughts, good news ceases to exist. Resentment transforms my heart into a cold, lifeless place. It’s merciless. No matter what happens then, I feel anger, jealousy, or even rage.

It drives us to dehumanize others. Some even reach an extreme where they wish the object of their resentment was dead.

Who do you resent?

Maybe it’s a difficult family member or work mate. Perhaps it’s a politician or even an entire political party. Could it be a news host?

The older brother in the parable disapproved of his younger sibling’s behavior, and for good reason. In a vile way, the youngster squandered the goodness and inheritance of his father.

This upset the older brother so much that no matter what, there was no room for forgiveness. So even when the younger brother decided to change, the older brother’s response was continued condemnation.

Then the older brother complained, saying, “Hey Dad. What’s the deal here? I am perfect, right? So how dare you shower my seriously flawed younger brother with love?”

The resentful heart really doesn’t want change. It doesn’t want blessings from God. Instead it prefers vengeance or control.

It continuously smolders under the surface. At the slightest provocation, resentment rears its ugly head to leave a trail of destruction.

It’s a secret hate that agonizes us.

It’s the spirit that crucified Christ.

When his younger son left home, it hurt the father profoundly. No doubt he wept and worried about his son. No doubt the father prayed, watched, and waited for his son to return.

But he never felt resentment. He was immune to that poison.

Of course he didn’t approve of how the young man was living, but the father’s heart never stopped loving his son. And when the younger son returned home, all the father could do was rejoice.

That’s the cure for the poison of resentment.

A deep yearning to rejoice… but there’s even more.

Resentment sucks all the oxygen out of your soul. The desire to forgive returns life.

When someone annoys me, or even hurts me, am I filled with wanting to forgive them? That would be pretty strange, right? But that’s how God the Father feels.

He wants to celebrate our change of heart. He can’t wait to forgive us. When someone does me wrong, is that same desire burning in me? Or does resentment poison my heart?

A desire for someone to change is wonderful and good. Dreaming of and wanting to forgive prepares us for an epic celebration.

Sometimes I’m the lost younger brother, sometimes the resentful big brother.

But God never changes.

He is dying to forgive me.

Could this same desire be part of a miracle in someone I care for? Could it work a miracle in me?

If you can’t manage to feel this deep desire to forgive on your own, ask the Lord to change your heart (I’m asking too).

He’s always waiting, watching, and ready to celebrate with you.

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