Luke 15:25-28- “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing…‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in.”
Our pastor preached from the passage in Luke about the prodigal son yesterday. As we were talking about the service and tossing around different points that the parable could have been making, I had this thought, “the older son missed an opportunity”.
In our text, we have two brothers. One who left home and spent all of his inheritance living life in the fast lane. Then we have the older brother who is at home, responsible, taking care of business, and doing what was expected of him. One day, he comes home to what sounds like a party. When he asked a servant what was happening, the servant tells him his brother has returned and they are having a celebration. He is so upset about this event that he refuses to go in.
Here is his missed opportunity! He had a chance to welcome his brother home and to rejoice with his family. He had an opportunity to demonstrate agape love and forgiveness. He was in a position to offer his brother restoration. But he missed that opportunity because he was angry and hurt. He allowed his emotions to dictate his actions and therefore, he missed an opportunity to have a stronger, more meaningful relationship with his brother, and his father.
Our emotions are not to be the compass of our lives. We are not to give in to them, allowing anger, hurt, and disappointment to keep us from walking in love, from letting our light shine, or from pleasing the heart of the Father. When we do, we put ourselves in a position to miss out on something else that God is wanting to do.
Saul missed the opportunity to be a great king!
So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him. And Samuel said, “What have you done?”1 Samuel 13:9-11 NKJV
Saul hadn’t been king for long. When Samuel was ready to anoint him king they could not find Saul. Therefore, Samuel had to ask the Lord to show him where Saul was at. They found Saul hiding amongst the equipment! Then several chapters later, Saul takes it upon himself to offer a sacrifice to the Lord.
And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”1 Samuel 13:13-14 NKJV
Disobedience! Samuel told Saul that he could have been a great king! He could have had a kingdom that would have lasted forever, but he disobeyed the commandment of the Lord, and the Lord replaced him with someone else! He had the opportunity, but he messed up and lost it. So sad!!
Our disobedience is equally as sad! When we fail to do what God has told us to do, we are disobedient. When we do the things that God told us not to do, we are disobedient! Saul did not repent, neither did he learn his lesson. Not long after that God told him to wage war against the Amalekites and to destroy everything and to kill everyone. But Saul did not! He even lied about it!
Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.”1 Samuel 15:13 NKJV
Not only did he lie about it, but he also tried to justify his actions to Samuel. The people took the plunder, Saul said, to sacrifice to Samuel’s God. And to make matters worst, for some reason, Saul spared the king. But neither Samuel nor God was impressed.
So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.1 Samuel 15:22 NKJV
Chosen to be king, by God is the best recommendation one can have. Yet, Saul missed the opportunity to be a great king because of his disobedience. How many lives have been ruined, or dreams forfeited, because of disobedience? Too many!
What about Esau?
Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”Genesis 25:29-30 NKJV
How can you sell a birthright? Maybe you didn’t realize that a birthright could be sold, but Jacob did! And when Esau needed food from him, the payment was his birthright! I know there are some other dynamics going on here, but the one I want to focus on is Esau missing his opportunity to receive the birthright of the blessing from his father.
When the time came for Isaac to bless Esau, Rebecca and Jacob deceived Isaac and Jacob received the blessing. When Esau showed up to be blessed, there was nothing left for him. Isaac told Esau that not only had Jacob received the blessing but Jacob would be blessed.
When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me—me also, O my father!”Genesis 27:34 NKJV
Isaac did speak a blessing over Esau. But it was nothing in comparison to what he spoke over Jacob. Listen to what the writer of Hebrews had to say about this situation:
Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.Hebrews 12:16-17 NKJV
Esau sold his birthright for food. This incident tells us two things about Esau. The first thing was that he was undisciplined. The second thing is that he devalued the things of God. These things go hand in hand. An undisciplined lifestyle is a life that has no respect for the holiness of God. A person who has no regard for the righteousness of God is a person who has no discipline. Esau lost his opportunity to be blessed by God and his father. He was undisciplined and took for granted his place in his father’s heart.
That’s what I see in the lives of undisciplined people. They take God’s grace for granted, not realizing that one day they can do something to cause them to miss out on what God has planned for their life! Lord, let it not be us!
I can go down the list of missed opportunities that I have heard about over the years. Books are written, songs are sung, and movies are made that broadcast the lives of individuals who have missed out on opportunities.
God is not the God of just a second chance. He’s the God of another chance. We can trust that those missed opportunities in His hand can be a blessing that we will not have room for. He can turn things around on our behalf. But also understand that those strong emotions, disobedience, an undisciplined life, and devaluing the things of God are most definitely ways to miss things that He wants to do in our lives. And sometimes people of God, we need to understand that there are no do-overs in life! So don’t miss those opportunities when they are presented to you. Wonderful Jesus!