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I am a volunteer-er (probably not a word). If there is something that needs to be done, help that is needed, especially at church, sign me up. I’m not talking about your normal, healthy, finding a place to serve and serving faithfully. I am talking about every time there is an announcement on the screen, from the pulpit or in the bulletin I am compelled to step in and fill any and every need. Don’t get me wrong, we all have our role to fill in the body of Christ, but I’m trying to be the hand, the foot, the left eye and the right earlobe. This is not healthy. I get roped into doing things I’m not good at, doing things that really someone else should be doing. I get over booked and overwhelmed. One time we were in a service and the pastor was mentioning a need in the church and before I could raise my hand, my husband held my arm down and whispered “you are not volunteering for that.” So why do I do it? Why the impulse to raise my hand?
I want to have value, I want to be needed, I want to be indispensable, I want to be loved, I feel the need to earn it. I am the prodigal’s older brother.
In Luke 15 Jesus tells the story of 2 brothers: the bad boy, prodigal, younger brother and the rule-following, hard working, responsible, older brother. When the prodigal returns home, dad throws a big party in celebration, much to the disappointment of his older brother. Big brother sulks and refuses to take part because it just doesn’t seem fair. With all of his hard work and loyalty to his father, he can’t get so much as a lousy goat to bar-b-que with his friends. “What does a guy have to do around here to get a little appreciation?”
The older brother and I are very much the same. We are very much rule followers and want to be recognized and appreciated for all we do. Our reward will be in earning the love of our father. The heartbreak is that we can never earn it. But, we don't have to earn it. It is already ours. In our effort to earn, we have missed out on all of the blessings, opportunities and rewards that already belong to us. We are surrounded by them but don’t see them. We have an incredible source that we never tap into. We just keep working harder and harder to get what we already have.
Maybe the older brother thought he deserved more of his father’s love because he was “better” than his brother? But, there is nothing that you or I can do to make God love us more. Our obedience is an outpouring of our love for Him (“If you love me keep my commands -John 14:15) not a means of earning his love for us. He already loves us - good, bad, prodigal or rule following - when we were at our worst, when we were still right in the middle of all our sinning, Christ died for us. What else do we think we need to do? What else is there to earn? After all, just like the not-so-prodigal son, we are His heirs and everything the Father has he gives to us.
Debbie Dartt Ministries © 2016