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Slave Versus Son

“I am not yet able to fully believe that where my failings are great, ‘grace is always greater.'”

Henri Nouwen

There are many nuggets of wisdom in the parable of the lost son found in Luke 15:11-32. Pause for a few minutes and read this passage. As I’ve reread these Scriptures, I am able to identify with both of these sons. But I relate most to the oldest son, the one who judged his sibling and thought all along he was more of a laborer, than his father’s son.

How we see ourselves, as a slave or as a child of God, will dictate our thoughts and actions. The elder son connected more with a servant’s mentality which affected his emotions and deeds. The oldest son was angry that his father threw a party for his sibling’s return and refused to celebrate his brother’s homecoming. Having a religious relationship with his dad, the elder son thought he had to earn his inheritance, instead of receive his legacy as an heir.

The irony is that all along he had his birthright in front of him, but he didn’t partake because of his inaccurate perception of his relationship with his father. The oldest son was offended at his dad because his dad gave the younger son what he didn’t deserve, while the oldest didn’t get what he thought he had earned through work.

How many times have I performed to get my Father’s attention and approval? How often have I judged others who I thought sinned more than me? These “religious” responses testify I don’t really believe I’m God’s daughter. Yet, since I’m adopted into God’s family, my inheritance is secure, because of what Christ did for me on the cross. This is what is true: “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours'” (Luke 15:31).

I obey God because I love Him, not in order to get His love. As His daughter, I already have His unconditional love and acceptance; it’s part of my inheritance. But how I see myself in relationship to God and what I believe is my true identity, affects my daily life. Either God is my Father, the one who loves me in spite of my sin, the one for me and is with me, and all that He has belongs to me, or He is my master, the one I need to work hard to gain His acceptance.

The choice is ours: do we believe we’re His children or do we embrace an orphan mentality, that He’s our master and we’re His slaves? Our thoughts make all the difference.

“Orphans labor for favor and identity. But a son begins from a place of acceptance.”

Elias Tan

Relevant Reflection:

  1. If you truly believe you’re God’s son or daughter, and already possess your inheritance, how would your actions today, be different?

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