Monday, January 20, 2020

Do You Have "Older Brother Syndrome?"

Hey Friend,

Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the parable of the Prodigal Son.  Jesus told this, and other, parables to the crowds that gathered, but his main focus, with this parable, was the Pharisees.  

The Pharisees were not unlike the older brother in the Prodigal Son story.  The older brother is bemoaning the fact that his younger, reckless brother went off and squandered his share of the inheritance on wine, women, and song.  

After finding himself out of cash and out of luck, sitting among the pigs, the younger brother decides he needs to humble himself and come on home.  He barely turns the corner to head down the road to the house when he sees his father running toward him.  (Jewish elders never ran).  His father calls for a beautiful robe for the son who has returned.  He orders that the servants kill the fattened calf because they are going to throw a BIG party!

Meanwhile, older brother who is sulking, questions his father, "What about me?  I've been here all along.  I never ran out on you or deserted you.  I've followed all the rules and have adhered to your commands. I've never strayed.  Where's my party?"

I have to admit my guilt on this one.  I've caught myself moaning to God..."What about me, Lord?  I've faithfully read your Word and I've always tried to follow your precepts.  I haven't committed any major sins and I follow your commands.  Where is my blessing?"

Then comes the one upping my neighbor.  "Lord, look at my neighbor he/she has all sorts of material blessings.  Her family is perfect.  They have no illness to battle.  He makes enough to have a house at the beach and they don't even go to church.  They don't even volunteer in this community.  What's with that?"

We tend to rate sins.  On a scale of one to ten, murder is a #10.  Adultery, perhaps an #8 or #9.  Lying is a #2.  Idol worship may be somewhere in between.  

Where does the sin of "pride" come in?  

We tend to rate the sin of pride as a #2 or #3 at the most, but I think God sees it as a #10+.  It is a sneaky and insidious sin that entraps most of us at some point.  

Whoever keeps the whole law, but stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  (James 2:10)

Similarly, if we have a long line of chain links connected together, we could say that the prodigal son was guilty of breaking many sins (or links) in the chain.  He broke the line in many places.

But if we only break one link (sin) in the chain, is the whole chain still not broken?

Pride is a chain breaker.  

As we celebrate this Martin Luther King day, our "Older Brother Syndrome" can transition from our "sins" to our "prejudices".  We may think that we are better than others when it comes to our least I don't ________.  I've never __________.  I don't show hatred like the other person does.  

I dare you to take a long hard look at yourself. I've been doing this.  Is your pride showing?  If you think your color is better than someone else's, if you think your political affiliation is better than someone else's, if you think you are, in any way, better than someone else, then perhaps you're suffering from "Older Brother Syndrome."

Pride is probably the most insidious of all the sins because the tendrils of self-righteousness easily ensnare us.  Oh how we like to think we are "better than," or "would never _______."

I know I've been guilty, and I continually need to come before the Lord and ask Him to wipe the ridiculous smirk of pride off my face and open my eyes to loving others as I love myself.  

God created such beauty and diversity.  What joy we have to take it all in and learn from each other's paths.  In doing so, we usher in God's Kingdom here on earth.

Happy Martin Luther King Day.

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for the sins I've committed - especially the sin of pride.  Help me to see that I am loved no more or no less than any of the other people you have created. Cleanse me of all self-righteousness. It is ONLY through the cleansing blood of your Son that I am made righteous in your eyes.  In your mercy, you attribute to me, the righteousness of Christ Jesus.  Enable me to take a long hard look at myself and if there is any way that I think that I am "better than"...nip that pride in the bud and forgive me for the error of my thinking.  Let me sow seeds of love, not hatred.  It is in Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  Do you have "older brother syndrome"?  Is your pride showing?  Might God be calling you to repentance?  Why is it hard for us to humble ourselves?  What's your takeaway from this post?

Be blessed... 

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