Most Christians are familiar with Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son. That rotten, greedy kid who got in his Dad’s face, and essentially said he wished the old man was dead. He wanted his inheritance now!
The father responds to his demand by giving him what he wants. He liquidates half his assets and forks them over to the rude little twerp. Of course, it isn’t too long before the kid has completely blown the opportunity. More importantly, he learns something from the lesson and comes home with a completely different attitude.
When he arrives, his father is thrilled to see him and starts throwing together a party. Enter the elder brother. Lets call him EB.
EB is upset. EB thinks that they should be rubbing the younger brother’s face in his mistakes. The kid certainly wouldn’t have received full restoration.
“But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’”
Is it just me, or did EB just make the same exact mistake that he wanted to see the prodigal punished for?
He felt entitled to his father’s blessings, and accused the father of withholding them unfairly. His justification for his behavior is that he has been the good kid all these years.
When it finally dawned on me that Prodigal and EB suffered from the same attitude problem, I got an ick feeling in my stomach. I realized that I’ve succumbed to the same affliction as EB.
I’m going to call it Good Kid Syndrome. Sufferers of this handicap are under the delusion that God owes us something.
We think that playing by the rules somehow entitles us to make demands on God. Demands that we would condemn someone else for making.
One of the problems with this mindset is that we all think of ourselves as Good Kids. No one is evil for the sake of being evil. Somewhere in our heart we’ve convinced ourselves that we have a right to take whatever action we are taking. I guarantee that the Prodigal had justification in his own mind for his initial treatment of his father. He didn’t consider himself the “bad brother.” Not until he discovered humility.
Not surprisingly, the same antidote that worked for the Prodigal is what we require when we fall prey to Good Kid Syndrome.
Here’s a prophylactic dose:
1. Prior good behavior does not excuse current bad behavior.
2. God doesn’t owe me anything.
3. If he is withholding a blessing, maybe it’s because he knows I’m not mature enough to handle it yet.
4. Any blessing he pours out on someone else isn’t going to affect my inheritance.
How about you, do you identify more with the Prodigal or EB? Have you ever contracted Good Kid Syndrome? Did you have siblings that could get away with anything?
Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess, Lisa Karon Richardson’s early books were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. Now that she’s (mostly) all grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure and excitement in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her first novella, Impressed by Love, part of the Colonial Courtships collection, is coming in October, 2012.