“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve 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. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” Luke 15: 28-32
When we read the story of the prodigal son, we often focus on the father’s unconditional love…but there’s also an interesting lesson on jealousy.
In the verses above, we get a glimpse into the other son’s reaction to his brother’s homecoming. Even though he was already getting everything his father owned, the brother in the story was jealous of the way his father was treating his brother’s return. He allowed jealously to block his ability to “be glad.” His brother’s return wasn’t cutting him short of his inheritance, and it wasn’t stopping his father from loving him any less—it was merely stopping him from experiencing the joy of a mended relationship.
At first glance we may not think this is a big deal…but take the time to stop and think if jealousy is stopping you from being glad in a particular area of your life. Being jealous of someone else doesn’t change your circumstances; it does however, change your ability to experience a life of love, gratitude and gladness.
Maybe it’s time to step back and weigh the cost of holding on to jealousy today. Letting go just may be the key to letting joy in.