The tragedy of slavish obedience and the alternative

Week beginning: 21st May, 2017 | By Ian Miller | London

"The elder brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've 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. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'"

Luke 15:28-30 (NIV 2011)

What matters most this week is our relationship with God and with our fellow men and women (colleagues, staff, clients, fellow students etc).

Tragically the relationship between the father and the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son was dead: it was nothing more than a dry legalistic life of obligation, slavish obedience and a sense of entitlement (v 29). In his view his younger brother had not slavishly obeyed but had been disobedient and therefore should take the consequences. Unlike the father, the elder brother showed no mercy, no grace and no love.

The challenge for us is to come to our heavenly father recognising - like the younger brother – the hopelessness of our situation and our complete dependence on His grace, love and mercy. This should lead to joyful and obedient service of Him in our lives and to grace, love and mercy in our relationships with those around us – in our places of work and beyond.

Prayer points:

1. Praise to our gracious, loving and merciful heavenly Father.

2. That we would show grace, love and mercy to our colleagues, staff, clients and all those we encounter this week.