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.” (Luke 15:29)
God is concerned with bringing people from death to life. His heart rejoices over each person who returns to Him from a time of rebellion. If your heart is like God’s, you, too, will rejoice when a sinner returns to the Father.
Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son is as much about the older son who remained as it is about the wayward son or the father. Year after year the older son labored for his father, waiting for a future reward. He had seen the brokenness his brother’s rebellion had caused his father. Yet when his brother returned, the older son did not rejoice with his father. He felt no pleasure in seeing his father happy. His concern was for himself and the injustice he perceived he’d been dealt. He felt like a martyr and totally missed the blessing of celebrating with his father.
It is possible to serve God year after year and yet have a heart that is far from Him. You might be one of the hardest workers in your church and yet be filled with bitterness because others do not share your load. You can become so preoccupied with your spiritual labors that when God works miracles in the lives of those around you, you cannot rejoice.
If you serve the Lord out of duty or habit, but not out of joy and gratitude, you will feel like a martyr. You will envy those who are experiencing joy in the Lord while you feel weighed down by the work you are doing. This is not the abundant life your Father has planned for you. Come to the celebration, spend time with the Father, and share in His joy!