Prodigal or Aggrieved?

By Reverend J. Loren Russell

Luke 15:11-31 (v.28-30) NKJV ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
“But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’”‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
Which was worse, the prodigal or the aggreived son?

Most know the proverb of the Prodigal Son or some similar story. It is a story about a wayward son who demanded his portion of his family inheritance before his father died, then went off and squandered it by lavish living. The parable of the prodigal son is so well known that movies, songs, and plays are written of people who have gone from riches to rags because of their wastefulness. We may even know someone who squandered an inheritance or wasted money that had been given to them.

There are three characters in this parable, each of which has their own story line; there is the prodigal, there is the older brother, and there is the father. The prodigal left with his inheritance, went into a far country, and as was already mentioned, wasted it on any and everything he wanted.

The older brother was not wasteful. He didn’t demand his inheritance. He stayed at home and worked with the father. This son, however, was aggrieved when the prodigal son returned and was celebrated. His unhappiness led him to refuse to join in the celebratory festivities and complain to his father. No party was ever given in his honor. No fatted calf (raised specifically to be slaughtered for a special occasion) was ever killed in his honor, nor was he ever given a signet ring or a new robe or sandals. The older brother wouldn’t even recognize his relationship to his brother, referring to him as “This son of yours.”

Then there’s the father, who loved both of his sons unconditionally. He kept an eye open for his prodigal son and immediately celebrated when he returned. The father told his older son, when he complained that he never got a new robe or sandals, had a party hosted for him, or a fatted calf roasted on his behalf. He refused to join the celebration. The father, seeking to comfort his son, said everything that he owned had always been available to him. All of those things were always at his disposal.

The prodigal was wasteful but came to his senses after sinking to his lowest point in life. When he came home, he was forgiven by his father. The older brother never forgave his brother for his wastefulness, or his father for forgiving him. He was aggrieved. The father only wanted what was best for both of his sons and was willing to forgive both; the younger for his wastefulness, and the older for being aggrieved.
There are many lessons to be learned from this parable. For me, the most significant is the willingness of the father to grant each son whatever they desired, then having the compassion to forgive them even if they misused or abused the gift. No one is perfect. We all have faults and shortcomings. But we have a heavenly Father, who, like the father in the parable, is gracious enough to give us the desires of our hearts, and kindhearted enough to forgive us even if we abuse, misuse, or fall short of His expectations of us.

I asked the question, prodigal or aggrieved? It really doesn’t matter. What matters is our readiness to receive the grace and forgiveness of our heavenly Father.

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at Goodwill Baptist Church and is the spiritual leader of the Evangelical Church of God, both in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company/J Loren R Consulting, LLC for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting (718-328-8096) and is the producer and host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Monday nights from 8:00 – 10:00 PM on Facebook Live. Be sure to ‘Friend’ the Matters of Faith YouTube Channel. Email us at Order your copy of Matters of Faith: The eBook at

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