The sin of the older brother that hits me most personally is that of entitlement. The older brother felt he was entitled to more from his father. He saw the party in his brother’s honor and felt he deserved a party with his friends too. He was so angry and resentful, he stood outside the celebration and refused to go in (Luke 15:28). I struggle with this too, friends. I look at the lives of others and think I deserve what they have. Entitlement in my life sounds like, “This isn’t fair,” “You owe me more,” and “I deserve better.”
Entitlement has its roots in pride. You look at something in your life that God says is a “good and perfect gift” (James 1:17) and tell Him it’s not good enough. God has really brought me through sanctification in this area. When our youngest son was diagnosed with autism my pride and entitlement rose to the top. I told God, “I have a special needs sister. I’ve been a Christ-follower since I was a child. I went to seminary. I’m married to a pastor. I’ve done everything right and this is how you repay me–with pain, struggling, and a son who will likely live with me forever (in addition to a sister who will live with me forever when my parents are no longer able to care for her).” And I haven’t totally overcome this sin. It creeps up when I see a typical three year old doing typical three year old things that my son cannot do.
“Elder brothers’ inability to handle suffering arises from the fact that their moral observance is results-oriented. The good life is lived not for delight in good deeds themselves, but as calculated ways to control their environment.” –Tim Keller. The Prodigal God
Like the older brother, our Father comes to us in the middle of our pity parties. He hears our complaints and lovingly reminds us, “You are always with me and everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). Trust those words today. Repent with me if you’ve felt entitled based on your spiritual resume. Find God’s grace through repentance and the freedom that comes with not having a performance-based relationship with Him.