Sat Oct 20th and Sun 21st: When you’re criticized

Read: Lk 15: 25-29, Prov 18:19

Focus: So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound. The older brother became angry and refused to go in. (Lk 15:27-28)

Some people live angry. Even on days when things are going their way, they seem to be parked on the edge of anger all the time, and people close to them tread carefully, knowing that they could explode at any time. And anger and stubbornness often go hand in hand. Angry people easily become entrenched in their own opinions, and refuse to budge, even when it becomes apparent that they are quite wrong. They will not be moved. Proverbs paints a stark picture of the offended person who refuses to shift in their position of anger.

In the parable, the father figure does everything he could to persuade his irate son to join the party. There’s an interesting contrast in the wording that we could easily miss because we read the story in English. When the elder brother summoned the servant and demanded to know the reason for the spontaneous party, the word used means ‘to stand in front of’- a posture of interrogation. But when Jesus describes the interaction between the father and the elder brother, the word changes and means to come alongside. The word used is rooted in the word ‘paraclete’, which is a biblical name for the Holy Spirit who comes alongside to comfort and help us.

If you’re involved in a stand off right now, in a conflict where neither party is blinking and nobody is willing to give way, realize that as you stand with your feet planted and your arms folded, God might be pleading with you to act differently. Who knows? Perhaps there’s a celebration ahead.

Prayer: Life - and people - can be frustrating, Lord. When anger fills me, and I am tempted to become entrenched, show me the way. Amen.

To download full bible notes click here.