What Causes More Damage: Lust or Resentment? Print
Written by Sherry   
Saturday, 24 March 2007 08:38
Thinking in Ohio has a moving post on the bitterness of the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son. Here's an excerpt:

"Often we think about lostness in terms of actions that are quite visible, even spectacular. The younger son sinned in a way we can easily identify… (but) the lostness of the elder son, is much harder to identify. After all, he did all the right things. He was obedient, dutiful, law-abiding, and hardworking. People respected him, admired him, praised him, and likely considered him a model son. Outwardly, the elder son was faultless. But when confronted by his father's joy at the return of his younger brother, a dark power erupts in him and boils to the surface. Suddenly there becomes glaringly visible a resentful, proud, unkind, selfish person, one that had remained deeply hidden, even though it had been growing stronger and more powerful over the years.”

Looking deeply into myself and then around me at the lives of other people, I wonder which does more damage, lust or resentment? There is so much judgment, condemnation, and prejudice among the “saints.” There is so much frozen anger among the people who are so concerned about avoiding “sin."

When I listen carefully to the word with which the elder son attacks his father—self-righteous, self-pitying, jealous words—I hear a deeper complaint. It is the complaint that comes from a heart feels it never received what it was due. It is the complaint expressed in countless subtle and not-so-subtle ways, forming a bedrock of human resentment. It is the complaint that cries out: “I tried so hard, worked so long, did so much, and still I have not received what others get so easily. Why do people not thank me, not invite me, not play with me, not honor me, while they pay so much attention to those who take life so easily and so casually?”

There is an enormous, dark drawing power to this inner complaint. Condemnation of others and self-condemnation, self-righteousness and self-rejection keep reinforcing each other in an ever more vicious way."


Strike a cord? It does with me - who have played both parts: prodigal and elder daughter. Comments?