God's Roadmap

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father God, who loved us and in his wonderful grace gave us eternal comfort and a beautiful hope that cannot fail, encourage your hearts and inspire you with strength to always do and speak what is good and beautiful in his eyes (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 TPT).

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Prodigal son or older brother: Which one am I?

by Barbara Latta

The story of the Prodigal son is widely used in Christian and secular circles. Children who stray from
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home are often referred to as prodigals. But in our spiritual life, many of us can probably say we have been each of these brothers at one time or another.

Which son am I?

We are born into the family of God when we accept Christ as Savior and Lord. But that doesn’t mean we will never sin again. When we do sin, we can feel that we must clean ourselves up before we can approach God. Like the younger son, I know how this feels. I have felt unworthy to approach God after a sin or mistake. I wouldn’t pray or read my Bible for a time because I felt condemned. But the condemnation didn’t come from God or His Word. It came from my conscience that knew something was wrong. But when realization of Romans 8:1 enlightened my mind, I knew my Father was waiting to embrace me with His love.

So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. I am not judged guilty because in Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made me free. It made me free from the law that brings sin and death (Romans 8:1 NCV).

This revelation changed the way I approached the Throne. Instead of running away when we sin, the first thing we should do is run back to the outstretched arms of God. We shouldn’t have to wallow in the pigpen of condemnation before realization hits.

But I have also been the older brother. Self-righteous attitudes formed when I judged another’s sin. I have been a good Pharisee.

In the story in Luke 15:11-32 we can see the characteristics of both the sons:

  • Both sons disrespected their father. Both were selfish.
  • The son that left home was foolish and used up all his money. He fed the flesh with his inheritance.
  • The older son stayed at home and worked to earn his father’s love and acceptance. He was feeding his flesh in a different way.
  • The younger son got so low he had to wallow in filth to eat. The older son wallowed in the filth of self-righteousness.
  • The younger son thought his father’s rules were too strict and heavy. But after returning home he saw that the yoke was easy and the burden light. There were benefits to obeying.
  • The older son made his own rules by assuming he knew what his father wanted. He appeared to obey but his attitude was one of rebellion (Luke 15:29).
  • The younger son finally realized he had sinned but still didn’t approach his father as a son. The older son never acknowledged his sin and approached his father as a benefactor instead of a loving father.

Neither of them approached their father based on the parental love they were shown.

Despite the way the boys treated their father, his reactions to their behavior revealed his godly
character and show us God’s character toward us:
  • The father didn’t plead for his son not to leave. He let him go off on his own and learn the hard way what life away from home was like (Luke 15:12). But the father was always looking for his son to return (Luke 5:20). God gives us a choice. If we choose to run away from Him, He allows us to go but He is always looking for us to come back. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).

  • The father didn’t reprimand the older son. He merely reminded the boy of what he had all along Luke 15:31).  Our heavenly Father reminds us of what He has given us. His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3 NKJV).

  • The father loved his sons and showed that love by giving them an inheritance (Luke 15:12) He makes us sons when we receive His Spirit.  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).

God’s desire if for us to know how much He loves us. Works and service come as a by-product of the relationship, not a way to obtain a relationship. We can learn much about our heavenly Father through the story of the prodigal son. In reality, they were both prodigals because they strayed from the relationship with their parent.

So, which son am I? If you see yourself as one of these children, no matter which one it is, please know that your Father is looking down the road and waiting to embrace you and fill you with the gifts He has already provided.

What insights have your gained from this story? Share your thoughts.


  1. I’ve always felt worse for the older brother because he didn’t know what he had. He missed out on so much. I’ve been that older brother, I think that’s why it makes me so sad! We have so much in Christ, but how often do we miss out on God’s gifts because we’re working for things we think are withheld from us?

    1. I have been that older brother too. It is sad when we live without knowing the inheritance Christ gave us. Thanks for stopping by, Josie. Blessings!

  2. Barbara, this is a beautiful post. Our Father wants a close relationship with all of us. Just come back to Him.

    1. Thank you, Debbie. If we could only live in that relationship and realize what He gave us and wants us to have. Blessings!