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Column: Happiness starts here

Latest column by Tim Pippus.
Moses, Bible

In Jesus’ story, “The prodigal son” (Luke 15:11-32), we typically focus on the wastefulness of the younger son and use him as a warning, or we celebrate the waiting and welcoming father. However, there is one more character in this story.

The older brother hears the celebration taking place and refuses to participate. Even after his father pleads with him to see things differently, he angrily states, “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” (Verses 29-30).

The older brother is mad because he thinks that this situation is unfair and unjust. It is wrong that he does what is right and receives nothing, yet his wayward brother stumbles back home dirty and disgraced, and he receives a hero’s welcome. The older brother believes that he is being treated unevenly and I agree with him. However, there are two problems with his thought pattern.

The first issue is that nothing in life is fair and even. Never! There will always be people who do less and gain more. You can always find someone who had an easier life or more help along the way. It is a fallacy to believe that everything is going to be fair and even.

The second, and bigger, issue is that the older brother is not happy with his own life and, therefore, he cannot be happy when anyone else succeeds, or is treated mercifully. This is his real problem. His father tried to explain this to him by pointing out, “Everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad” (verses 31-32). Had he been able to see his blessings, then he would have been able to celebrate with his brother, too.

We spend a lot of time thinking that other people have it better than we do. “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” right?

No! The grass is green everywhere.

Happiness begins by being thankful for your side of the fence.