“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.” Luke 15:28-30
There is a party going on, but the older brother refused to enter it because it wasn’t the party he wanted. There are people at the party, but not the friends he would have chosen to be there. He has become a victim of his own sense of entitlement and is now alone in the isolation of self-pity.
In His great love the Father has thrown an extravagant party for the human race called “grace.” Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we can experience forgiveness of sins, new life, the assurance of heaven when we die, and a present fellowship with the Holy Spirit no matter what circumstances we’re living in.
But often this isn’t good enough for us! We want God to prove His love by doing certain things and healing or saving certain people (“my friends”) within the time frame we’ve given Him. We can feel like we deserve this because we’ve been faithful and obedient, prayed and believed “right,” or because we go to church regularly and even give money.
We don’t try to be ungrateful, entitlement just creeps up on us and makes us feel like we’re somehow being cheated. Then we find ourselves, even as Christians who love God, living outside of the party.
The father is not put off by the older brother’s self-pity. He goes out to him and reminds him of all the blessings that are his: “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” He explains that the party he’s throwing is not an endorsement of the prodigal’s sin, but a celebration of redemption. “We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
“We” are supposed to be celebrating; God and us, because of the grace He has lavished on us and on all who repent and believe in Christ. Are you missing the party God’s throwing because it isn’t exactly the party you wanted? Why not surrender your expectations to God, lay down that sense of entitlement that comes from self-righteousness, and enter fully into the celebration of God’s grace today?