Slave or Son?

As a father, I have a deep love for my daughter and three sons. Over 27 years of fatherhood, my great delight has been to enjoy relationship with my children. I trust that in that time, despite my obvious failings as a dad, my children will have known that my love and acceptance of them have been freely given, and are not things to be doubted or which have to be earned.

In the parable commonly known as ‘the parable of the prodigal son’, Jesus quite powerfully presents a picture of His Father - His Abba (Daddy) - to his hearers. It’s a stunning image. He’s a Father who moves towards His imperfect sons in love and acceptance.

I’m intrigued by the responses of the two sons to the heart of their dad. The younger son has taken the money and run. He has ‘blown it’ and now seeks to return home after realizing that he’s doomed if he doesn’t. But he believes that by his failings, and his sins, he has forfeited all rights as a son. At best he can only hope to come back as a hired worker – as a servant of his father.

The older brother has been working faithfully for his father. He didn’t ask for his share of the inheritance. He didn’t go and waste it in wild partying. No, he remained at home where, in his own words, he was ‘slaving’for his father all these years.

Here they are - two beloved sons, yet neither one living in the truth of what their status of sonship meant. The younger believed that his status as a son was contingent on him staying perfectly in line. When he moved off line, he believed he had lost his sonship. The elder only saw himself as a slave. Slaves work hard and don’t expect privileges. Slaves relate to their masters in subservient obedience - marked by fear of failure and its consequent rejection.

It’s quite sad isn’t it? Both sons didn’t really know their dad, and both missed out on the fullness of relationship and life that their dad wanted them to enjoy with him.

How many of us feel that we have ‘blown it’ by some area of sin in our life? How many of us are dutifully carrying out our tasks as obedient Christians, yet in effect seeing ourselves as slaves? Our Heavenly Dad has so much more for us to enjoy. We are sons. Not slaves!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please help me today to know the truth of what it means to be a ‘son’. Would You please reveal to me the areas in my life where I am still a slave. I want to be free to enjoy my status as a son (daughter) of the Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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But he (the older brother) answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I have been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends’.
Luke 15:29, NIV


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Today's Writer

Paul Watson Watson was for 15 years an Anglican Minister in Sydney, Australia before joining Ellel Ministries full time in 2004. Together with his wife Diane he was involved in establishing the first Australian Ellel Ministries centre “Gilbulla” near Sydney. Currently they are leading the work at Ellel Pierrepont in Surrey, UK. Paul & Diane have 4 adult children and 8 grandchildren.

Paul Watson

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