“Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18)
In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus told the parable of the prodigal son to give human beings great lessons regarding salvation. In that story, the unfortunate attitude of the older brother when the prodigal son returns home stands out. Instead of being bitterness. He’s also insensitive to the father’s suffering for his son, who was lost, and refuses to participate in his joy. As if that wasn’t enough, he harbors a great resentment toward his father because he feels his life has been a routine of uncompensated service: «You never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends» (v. 29). He considers himself irreproachable and righteous, although his heart is full of envy, especially toward his brother, who «has enjoyed the world,» while he has had to «suppress» himself all along. Rather, he expected that if his brother came back, his father would give him a huge punishment so nobody else would dare follow his example. So, he’s offended by the mercy shown toward the one that was lost. He’s even annoyed by the music and celebration in honor of his brother! Why should people be happy?
The phantom of bitterness, dissatisfaction and unhappiness surrounds many believers who, in their opinion, «have never misbehaved.» They sometimes believe their «irreproachable behavior» makes them deserving of an extra bonus in the kingdom of heaven. Sadly, they’re unhappy in spite of being in church and they don’t enjoy the gospel blessings. In a disturbing way, they display certain indignation when someone shows mercy toward sinners. «Self-righteousness not only leads men to misrepresent God but makes them coldhearted and critical toward their brethren»—Christ’s Object Lessons, Ch. 16, p. 210.
It’s very important to be in the church, but the way we are in church is no less important. A bad attitude can neutralize the power of the gospel in such a way that, even with the possibility of living in the presence of the heavenly Father, we may fall prey to bitterness.
Ask the Lord today to help you improve your attitude and learn to enjoy the happy times God gives you.