"All I have is Yours": Thoughts on Insecurity from the Elder Brother
When we read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, it can be tempting to focus almost exclusively on the younger brother. We see ourselves as the person who was lost, came to our senses, and returned to the Lord. Yet, there is something much more profound weaving through this story: the question of identity. How does each son see himself?
Let’s start with the younger son. He decided to cut ties with his father, choosing to be the captain of his destiny by taking control of his own life. As that plan began to fall apart, his identity shifted to that of a hired hand. When that, too, wasn’t working out, he decided to humble himself and take the role of a servant in his father’s house because even that was way better than his current situation. You know the rest! When the son drew near, the father ran to embrace him. The son would have been content to be a servant, but the father showered him with overwhelming love and blessing, restoring him to his position as a celebrated son in his household.
What about the elder brother? He didn’t leave his father and try to take control of his own life. In fact, he was very faithful. Yet, his comments at the end of the story reveal that he, too, did not know his identity as a son. He was angry at his father for the way he welcomed his brother back. All of his work and loyalty seemed to have gone unnoticed, and he was upset and jealous. These feelings rose up because he did not see himself as a son, secure in his father’s love.
Have you ever felt like the elder brother? Maybe you are one of the last of your friends to get married, or you see people on Instagram or Facebook wearing nicer clothes, taking exciting vacations, or getting well-paying jobs. Emotions of feeling left out, upset, jealous, and even angry might start to poke their head out. Yet, in my experience, these emotions peek out when I forget my identity as a daughter of a loving, extravagant, and faithful father.
Just as he told the elder brother, he is telling us: “All I have is yours.” I can tell you countless stories of the way that God has provided for me and blessed me. When my husband and I were getting married, we wanted to buy a house. We looked and looked. Toward the end, we viewed a house in a neighborhood that I had always liked but never dreamed we could afford, and lo and behold, the Lord provided a way for us to live there. Later, when we needed new couches but again were struggling with the cost, we walked into a store and saw couches that fit our needs perfectly and were well under any price we had seen before.
I can also tell you that, while these blessings are a daily reminder of God’s love and provision, they do not satisfy the deeper need of my heart. I can easily slip into thinking that I don’t have as much as this other person or wondering why am I not as smart or funny.
When these thoughts start, it's a reminder that I have forgotten who I am.
I have to go to a quiet place and ask the Father to show me how much he loves me. He shows me that I am his beloved child. He pours his love into my heart and reminds me of all that he has already done. I ask him to touch any emotions of jealousy with his love.
As I experience his love, I begin to feel secure again in who he has made me to be. I am reminded that I don’t need to compare myself to all those other people because I am not them. God has me on my own particular journey with him.
I once heard that if we knew how the Father sees us, we would never want to be anyone else. I encourage you to find a quiet place and ask the Father to show you how much he loves you. Let him touch areas of jealousy or resentment with his holy love. Release it to him and let him gently remind you that you have all the riches of heaven at your fingertips. Out of this mindset, we can be confident daughters who then choose to serve with joy and peace, secure in our father’s arms, protected and blessed by his love.
Christine lives in a household with her husband, Joel, and two housemates, and of course, her guide-dog, Dina. She is employed by the Spirit of Christ Community in Jacksonville, Florida, and enjoys gardening and baking.