Self-Righteous Isolation

But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!
- Luke 15:30

“This son of yours” … what a cry of isolation!

In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus tells about a man who has two sons. The younger son obnoxiously asks for an early inheritance and foolishly wastes it. The older son stays home with his father, works on the family farm, and ends up isolating himself in anger.

The parable switches back and forth between referring to the men as sons (v. 11, 13, 19-21, 24-25, 30-31) and referring to them as brothers (v. 27-28, 31). Being a son of their father made them brothers to each other. One cannot be a son without being a brother. One cannot be a brother without being a son.

The older sons anger, jealousy and frustration created a fault-line that rattled all of his other relationships. He refused to acknowledge his relationship to his younger brother. As a result, his relationship with his father was strained.

All of this has its roots in self-righteousness. The older son chose to place performance and reward as a higher priority than relationships and love. But for the intervention of his father, he would have ended up alone.

Self-righteousness always isolates us. As we look down our noses at others, we distance ourselves from them. We become less loving and less capable of receiving love. Our hearts harden and pump cold blood through cold veins. But God has so much more for us than this kind of life.

Where is self-righteousness (your own or someone else’s) threatening to isolate you? What can you do today to make a move toward someone from whom you’ve been isolated? What can you do today to make a move toward God?

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