Bitterness and Resentment – Greg Albrecht

Remember the older brother, the third major character of the parable of the prodigal son? As he witnessed the extravagant love and forgiveness of his father, lavished on his younger brother when he came home from wasting his inheritance, the older brother was eaten alive by jealously, envy and bitterness. The older, unforgiving brother refused to join in the festivities and celebration.

The older, responsible, hard-working brother felt that he was a faithful and diligent son, always trying to earn his father’s favor.

But the celebration and festivities—the barbecue, the music and the dancing—were not in honor of all his hard work.

The joy and celebration were because his obviously less-than-perfect younger brother had come home. The parable ends without us being told the end of the story—did the older brother let go of his bitterness?

Buddy Hackett, an American comedian and actor who died a little over ten years ago once said, half in fun and half seriously, “Don’t carry a grudge. While you’re carrying the grudge the other guy is out dancing.”

That, of course, is exactly what the younger brother and his father were doing—they were dancing. They were filled with joy—which is the state of mind that Christ produces in us. By contrast, the older brother, for all of his hard work and virtue and all his righteousness was eaten alive by bitterness and resentment.

I always remember the wisdom of an old Arab proverb: “Write the wrongs that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble. Let go of all emotions such as resentment and retaliation, which diminish you, and hold onto emotions such as gratitude and joy, which increase you.”

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