"Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in" (Luke 15:25-28).

The older brother of the prodigal grew angrier by the moment. After all, he had served his father diligently for years, never transgressing any commandment. He was upright according to the law, and he had kept himself scrupulously clean.

Yet, peering through that window, this older son saw the greatest vision of grace ever given to humankind: The father was embracing a repentant, lost son. He didn't ask any questions or lecture; instead, he clothed him in a new garment and restored him to his former position of full favor and blessing. And then he brought him into the feast!

The vision this older son saw was that a person can repent, no matter how low he sinks, if he simply gives up running his own life and comes back to the father. Yet the older brother protested it all and refused to go in to the feast. Why? He wanted no part in what he saw as an easy grace!

It is typical of the legalistic mindset to protest a generous outpouring of grace on a returning backslider. Many Christians, sitting next to some drug addict or alcoholic in church, think, "Thank God that I never sinned that way. He could fall again tomorrow."

Scripture says this kind of pride is more deadly than any addiction: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12).

The truth is, when the prodigal saw his older brother frowning at him through the window, he probably thought, "Oh, my brother, if you only knew how I admire you! You never went out and sinned as I did. You have the better testimony. And all my life I'll have to live with the memory of bringing shame on our family's good name. I know I don't deserve any of this. In fact, you should be here in my place. How I wish I could have fellowship with you!"

That is the cry of a truly repentant and humbled heart!