(from a message by Dr. Charles Hamilton of the Upper Room Fellowship in Columbiana)
TEXT: Luke 15:11-32 – The Parable of the Prodigal Son
1. Unforgiveness always keeps score. (anger)
Vs 29 “These many years I have served you.”
The older brother counted . . . He counted his own good works and he counted his brothers sins. He was in bondage to his anger and could not even enjoy the fact that his brother was still alive and restored to his family.
Complete forgiveness unties the knot and “remembers no more.” That means deliberately not dwelling upon it any longer. When you let go of your anger and work toward forgiveness, you are setting yourself free from bondage. We may remember a hurtful incident, but through forgiveness our emotions are healed and the pain is gone. “You will surely forget your trouble, remembering it only as waters gone by.” (Job 11:16) What a liberating feeling that is!
2. Unforgiveness boasts of its good behavior. (arrogance)
Vs 29b “I have never disobeyed your command at any time.”
The older brother had an inflated opinion of himself. Let’s get real – who can honestly say, “I’ve never disobeyed.”? How many times, when pondering an offense done to us, do we make a list of our own good deeds? – as if that somehow justifies our unforgiving attitude.
3. Unforgiveness complains. (accusations)
Vs 29c “you never gave me . . .”
The older brother is not accusing his brother here – he is actually accusing his father!
4. Unforgiveness divides & separates. (alienation)
Vs 30 “But as soon as this son of yours came . . .”
The older brother could not say “my brother.” In his heart, he had disowned his brother. He wanted others to share his pain so he brought others into his imagined offense instead of setting himself free from it.
5. Unforgiveness continues to bring up the offense.
Vs 30 “. . . who has squandered your property with prostitutes . . .”
The older brother emphasized his brother’s offenses, implying that he did not deserve grace, love & favor. People stuck in this trap want comfort, so they poison others with their offense and bring them into their prison with them.
6. Unforgiveness resents the blessings enjoyed by the offender.
Vs 32 “Your brother was dead but now is alive . . .”
He didn’t even see his brother as being alive (because he had disowned him in his heart) and couldn’t enter into the joy of his return.