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Seeds of the Kingdom

Slave or Son?

by Paul Watson

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

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.

Paul Watson At the end of 2020, Paul stepped down from his role as Centre Director of Ellel Pierrepont in the UK, and with his wife Diane, returned to live in Western Australia. They are enjoying having a break and spending time with their family. Paul and Diane are still on the Board of Ellel Ministries Australia.


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