“Look, all these years I have been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends…” Luke 15:29
There are so many lessons to learn from the story of the Prodigal son, depending on the light God sheds in our hearts. There have been so many messages on this passage, some people have also condemned the action of the prodigals’ elder brother and believe me, this is one story God has used to teach me many lessons in life. The elder brother of the prodigal son played a familiar role in this parable, familiar because like him I have at certain points felt that God owed me something, I felt I was entitled to some special treatment because of my ‘work’ for God. If you have been in these shoes, come with me lets learn together, this is not a time to throw stones or point accusing fingers, but a time to allow God wash us with the water of his word.
Sometimes as Christians, we feel God owes us because of one ‘dangerous act, seed or sacrifice’ we gave at one time or the other. We hold God to ransom based on our good works. Let me emphasize here that we aren’t pleasing to God because of our good works, but we must not forget that we were saved to do good works. As good as good works and acts of service are, we must be careful not to do them because we are expecting God to pay us back. This is what I call the entitlement mentality.
God doesn’t borrow from us, He doesn’t owe us.
This mentality is often subtle; you may claim you don’t have it. Am sure the elder brother overlooked his motives all these years, but they came to light when his father came to plead with him. The motive behind his years of tireless service was quickly revealed- entitlement. He felt because he was serving faithfully, His father must settle him. Before we crucify him, let us examine our own hearts too. Do we expect God to pay our children’s school fees because we paid someone’s school fees earlier or because he has promised us in his word to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory through Christ? Have you ever felt that since you have been faithfully doing aso ebi for all your friends who have been getting married, it’s time for God to give you your own husband? What about your tithes and offerings, work in the church ministry, cleaning and sweeping the church and so many other acts of service, even if you may not be doing it for people to see, are you doing it for God to pay you back?
In as much as I commend all these gestures, let me say that we have only done what we are supposed to do as sons. If you wash plate in your house or sweep the house as a son or daughter, does anyone need to clap for you or give you a special recognition? You are part of the family and you have only done what a son/daughter does. When we do the right things, we must not hold God to ransom because of that. God blesses us out of his goodness and eternal love, not because of our ‘threats’. I have heard a Pastor say “Challenge God with your offering” no amount of offering you give can challenge God, How can you ever challenge the one who gave his only son for you, what offering will you give that will be greater than that? We give to Him out of the abundance of what He has first given to us, so our giving is a sign of prosperity already!
He freely gives to us. Yes, He does.
Finally, I have learnt that God does reward his children, but He only does that on his own terms. We don’t tell him how to reward us. Your reward for paying someone’s school fees like I mentioned earlier may come in another way. God chooses the best way that will suit us the most, not the way we tell him. This young man was expecting a reward of a young goat to celebrate with his friends, while his Father had already given him more- everything He had! Yet because of his myopic entitlement mentality, he couldn’t see it and missed out on this great reward. That thing you are holding God to ransom for and working so hard to ‘bribe’ God to give you may not even be what you need most now. God sees beyond now, we must trust him enough to leave the decision of how to reward us to him.
Let us serve God and obey him because He is God, we are His Children and we love Him. He will definitely reward us when and how he chooses and trust me, nothing you desire for yourself can ever be equal to or greater than what God has prepared for you. His thoughts to us are for good (Jer 29:11).