I Am The Older Brother

I am the eldest of four siblings which has framed a lot of things in my life. Many studies have shown that birth order is often believed to have a profound and lasting effect on psychological development. I tend to agree.

Simply by virtue of being a couple's first child, a firstborn will naturally be a sort of experiment for the new parents, a mixture of instinct and trial-and-error. Perhaps this will cause the parents to become by-the-book caregivers who are extremely attentive and stringent with rules. Therefore, firstborns tend to like structure, and prefer rule following. Firstborns believe they should be the leaders.

Early on I decided I wanted to be a rule follower. I thought if I lived "rightly"' all my dreams would go just as planned. Instead, my self-righteousness grew like a cancer, slow and undetectable, hidden by a life focused on pleasing others.

There is so much irony in self-righteousness because it is exactly the self-righteous who don't think they have a problem. That's why it can be a toxic sin, one that creeps into our lives without our awareness. Today, I find it most apparent in my marriage. When I'm having a bad day, God forbid my wife sneeze too loudly, miss a phone call, or accidentally leave the stove on. I'm quick to point out or dwell on minor flaws while ignoring the far bigger issue: my critical spirit.

In the parable of the prodigal son, the older brother starts a long argument with his father. He mentions that he never had a party; meaning that deep down, he felt he deserved one. I know I'm the older brother—heart hardened and locked up tight—so inflexible that I'll move over for no person, not even a brother returning home. I need to repent just as much as the Prodigal does.

What about you? Are you willing to move over? To make some space for what the Father is making space for? Are you willing to move over when a friend needs an un-planned hand? When the phone rings and your ID reminds you that the person is complicated? When a neighbor you barely know suddenly asks you over for a certain football game? 

Move over. There is room for all of us at His table.

Pastor Milo
(adapted from article Making Room for the Self-Righteous by Claire Gibson)


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