Focal passage: Luke 15:20-32
I once read a story about two shopkeepers with stores directly across from one another. At night, an angel appeared to one of them in a dream and said, “I will give you anything you ask, but whatever you receive, your competitor will receive twice as much. You can be healthy or rich, but he will be twice as healthy and twice as rich. What is your desire?”
The man frowned. Not wanting his competitor to get more than him, he said, “Here is my request: Strike me blind in one eye!”
Why would he say that? Because often it’s more satisfying to see a rival fail than watch them succeed.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells a similar story about two sons. The younger son foolishly spent his inheritance, becoming poor and destitute as a result (vv 14-16). The older son remained at home, tending to his usual business with his father. When the foolish son returned, he was welcomed by his father with open arms, much to his brother’s frustration (vv 28-30).
The father said to his eldest, “Son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (vv 31-32).
When discussing this passage in small groups, I find that many people relate to the older brother. Why? Because in our heart, we desire fairness. It doesn’t seem fair that the younger brother should be welcomed home without any consequences.
As believers we should celebrate when God restores and forgives someone. When we see a person going down the wrong path, rather than wish judgement upon them, we ought to pray for their restoration and celebrate its fulfillment!
If we are willing to see ourselves as part of the same team, we’ll be more likely to celebrate with one another and bear each other’s burdens. We can, as Paul says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice” and “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).