Lessons Of A Lifetime

The So-Called Hidden Sin Of Envy
A Refusal To Forgive And Rejoice
Sunday Jan. 9, 2022

Scripture To Consider:
“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ But he [the older son] was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father pleaded with him.”

“So he [the older son] answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet, you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’”

“And he [the father] said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”                  Luke 15.25-32

Something To Consider:
The hidden sin of envy displayed by the elder brother was a reflection of the self righteous attitude of the scribes and Pharisees who had complained when the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Jesus. Time and time again these scribes and Pharisees had refused to both forgive and to rejoice over the compassionate mercy God demonstrated through His Son Jesus.

For the older brother, the religious hypocrites, and any who retain hidden sin, the biblical truth of Numbers 32.23 naturally rises to the surface. “And be sure your sin will find you out.” For just as the hidden sin of envy and jealousy poured forth from the older brother, it will pour forth from anyone and everyone if hidden and not forgiven!

Refusing to forgive or to rejoice when appropriate will foster further hidden sin. The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5.26; “Let us not be desirous of vain glory [or conceited], provoking one another, envying one another.” And James, the step brother of Jesus affirmed, “Where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

Something Else To Consider:
All these years the older son confessed that he had served his father without once breaking one of his commandments. That is, all these many years he had not served his father out of a heartfelt love and loyalty, but rather out of a ritualistic relationship void of the true love of a son toward his caring and providing father.

And yet, how many of us have been or even now are walking in the same spiritually unhealthy sandals of hidden sin? If that is the case, let us begin this new year by allowing our heavenly Father to place a new pair of shoes fit for kingdom service on us, and to place on us a new robe of righteousness to cover our hidden but sinful attitudes, and let us rejoice at the thought of a ring of forgiving fellowship being placed upon our finger.

How true is the picture presented by the older envious and jealous brother repeated as religion often insidiously attempts to replace the biblical truth of Christianity? But the overwhelming love of God in and through Jesus Christ never fails! Paul instructed us in Romans 12.9, by stating; “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor [or hate] what is evil. Cling to what is good.”

Paul continued with much godly advice if we are so inclined to desire to live godly in Christ Jesus. He began his lesson of a lifetime in verse 10 of Romans chapter 12, by declaring; “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope.”

Something More To Consider:
In our Scripture to consider, the father explained to his elder envious son; “It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.” The father of these two sons knew that his younger son was not physically lost or physically dead, but in another country.

Therefore, is Jesus proclaiming that the youngest son’s leaving the comfort and safety of his father’s protection, placed him in a state of being spiritually dead? And does that mean his returning home seeking forgiveness placed him in a state of being spiritually alive again?

What then was the spiritual state of the older brother? What is the spiritual state of others who refuse to forgive and to rejoice at the repentance of another? The greatest and most important question is what spiritual state are we in today? Are we spiritually lost or found? Are we spiritually dead or alive?

How can we read this spiritual lesson of a lifetime and still hold to such a so-called tradition as once saved always saved? According to this earthly father’s response, who represented our heavenly Father, this prodigal son was lost, spiritually lost. And he was dead, spiritually dead while still physically alive. But according to Jesus once he repented of his sin he became spiritually found and spiritually alive!

What greater biblical picture of our being spiritually born again could Jesus have portrayed for us? And yet, just as dangerous as our being among the spiritually lost and spiritually dead by our leaving or departing from the faith, is our remaining physically in what appears a relationship with religion and its outward rituals and traditions, while we possess the hidden sin of envy and a rebellious refusal to forgive and to rejoice at the true repentance of the lost!

A Few Final Words:
The apostle Paul, speaking of the nation of Israel needing the gospel, stated in Romans 10.3; “For they [the self-righteous whether Jewish or Gentile, younger or older brother or sister] being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” How sad a state to be found in by God!

In reality, the elder brother had not submitted to his father’s righteousness by refusing to rejoice over his spiritually lost and spiritually dead one-time prodigal brother returning home with true heart-felt repentance over his sin. His refusal to forgive and to rejoice revealed his hidden sin of envy and jealousy toward his brother leaving home and now being lavishly welcomed home by his father!

Which son do we more exemplify? Or have we been guilty of both son’s refusal to submit to our heavenly Father’s righteousness and righteous will for our lives? Forgiveness and rejoicing should be our natural response to a repenting brother or sister returning from the far away country that leads to spiritual death.

For according to Jesus, “It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.” And that is what the amazing grace of God is all about!

Our Father in heaven, may there be no hidden sin lying dormant within us, ready to erupt and expose itself in us as a refusal to rejoice. Make us more like Jesus. In Him Always, Amen!

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