My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. (Luke 15:31, NIV)
In the parable of the prodigal son, the elder brother was miserable because he did not know how much his father loved him. And he was miserable because he was working for what he already possessed. Similarly, many Christians are miserable because they are striving to earn what God has already given them. They are slaving away because they don’t know how rich they are. They are unaware of their inheritance in Christ.
In Christ we are:
- heirs of God himself (Romans 8:17)
- heirs of the kingdom (Colossians 1:12, James 2:5)
- heirs of the earth (Matthew 5:5, Romans 4:13)
- heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14)
- heirs of eternal life (Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:17, Ephesians 1:14, Titus 3:7)
- heirs of God’s promises (Hebrews 6:12, 17)
- heirs of blessed and gracious life (Ephesians 1:3, 1 Peter 3:7, 9)
- heirs of all things (John 17:10, Hebrews 1:2, Revelation 21:7)
In the parable, the elder brother complained that his father had not given him so much as a young goat for all his years of service (Luke 15:29). It’s a question many Christians ask. “God, why haven’t you rewarded me for my faithful service?” But the father in the story could not reward the son with a goat because all the goats and cows and livestock already belonged to the son. The father had divided up the property when the younger brother asked for his inheritance. The whole farm belonged to the older brother. But the older brother couldn’t see it. Because he saw himself as a servant working for a wage and not a son with the privileges of an inheritance, he was unable to enjoy what was already his.
The same could be said for many Christians. Seeing themselves as servants rather than sons, they are not able to receive what God has freely provided. It’s a twofold tragedy. On the one hand they are working for wages that will never come, and on the other they are incapable of enjoying their inheritance in Christ.
In the parable the father says to the older brother, “Everything I have is yours.” Not will be yours but is yours now. Our heavenly Father says the same thing to us:
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” (Genesis 15:1, NKJV)
God gives us himself and when you have him you have everything else besides. You only need to look to Jesus to know this is true.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32, NIV)
If we Christians knew how rich we are in God, we would stop slaving for wages and we’d stop asking for skinny goats. Instead, we would thank him for every blessing and privilege that is ours in Christ (Eph. 1:3). We would stop running after rusty trinkets, and we would praise him for his lavish generosity. And then we would tell others the good news so that they too could join the party.
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