I was reading the parable of the prodigal son recently and I noticed that both the sons had alienated themselves from their father in different ways.

The younger son thought he could enjoy his inheritance independent of his father, and then when he came to himself and returned, he still had a problem of feeling like he was not worthy to be called a son.  The father in the parable had to show him he was still his son, clothing him with the robe, ring, sandals, and giving him a feast with fatted calf.

The older son alienated himself by getting angry and not going into the house to the party. Even though he knew he was a son, he still didn’t feel like a son because to his mind a bigger deal was made over his returning brother than himself, even though he had stayed obedient.  He questioned whether he was a son too because he felt he didn’t experience the benefits of sonship. His father had to remind him that he was “ever with me” and “all that I have is thine,” which meant that the oldest son really could have a party at home whenever he wanted.

I suspect that we as members alienate ourselves from our Heavenly Father in those two different ways. If we sin awfully, we think we’re not worthy to be His child anymore. If we stay faithful, we may question whether we really are His child, thinking we can’t or are not enjoying the privileges.

Satan would really like us to believe those things, so we need to recognize the source of those thoughts and throw them out. Also, just like the father in the parable worked to overcome each son’s difficulties, if we recognize how we are alienating ourselves and take it to the Lord, He will help us. 

I appreciate the reassurance the father gave to his oldest son. The reminder “you are ever with me” corresponds to having the Spirit to be with us always, and “all that I have is thine” corresponds to the promise of someday receiving celestial glory.

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