Older brother syndrome

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by Steve DuPlessie


Ok, so last week I mentioned that the older brother in the familiar Prodigal Son Story (Luke 15:11-31) let his jealousy and anger rob him of the honor and joy of being part of the father’s generous hospitality. But there’s yet another lesson from the older brother that my wife, Deb, reminded me of…

I am frequently much like that older brother. He thought that his “stay at home, obedience, and work hard” actions (look again at verses 28-30) somehow obligated his father to giving him good stuff like big parties with his friends. I recognize that attitude of expectation and entitlement in myself.

Sure, I know that I did not in any way earn my salvation. I surely didn’t deserve God’s love and grace. I am saved only because God sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to take my punishment for all my sin there on the cross at Calvary — and in exchange give me the righteousness of Jesus. All by God’s amazing grace, not by works. I get it.

But to be honest, there is part of me that struggles with expectation and entitlement:”I’m a good and obedient son, so why can’t I have … (fill in the blank with any number of things I want)?” “I work hard for You, so why did this have to happen to me?”

Instead, Deb reminded me, I need to stop thinking I’ve earned something good from God and instead gratefully see every good gift from above as yet another gift by God’s grace and love. Stop blaming God for not being good or generous and instead humbly accept every trial or difficulty as the challenge of living in a broken and fallen world. And for sure stop adopting the culture’s sense of entitlement. Stop being an older brother.





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