Older Brother Syndrome

If you’ve been a Christian for awhile, you may have come across the Parable of the Lost Son.

This passage comes from Luke 15:11-32.

I’d encourage you to read it as it portrays a story of 2 sons:

The younger son demanded from his father for his share of the estate, left and squandered his wealth in wild living, realising his senses and returning back to his father. His father saw him, was filled with compassion for him, ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Put the best robe on returned son, a ring on his finger, and feast and celebrated.

The elder son who’ve been loyal and hardworking in the field became angry and refused to go in the house to celebrate his younger brother’s return.

“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 fatten 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.’ “

This passage speaks so much about the Love of the Father, the younger son, and the other brother.

Hopefully we get to reflect on ourselves if we ever felt like the older brother at times in our lives.

Here are some Older brother syndrome:

  1. Works for approval instead of from approval.
  2. Succeed to be accepted
  3. Live by love of law and not by the law of love
  4. Life is driven by performance instead of from position

OBS 1) Works for approval instead of from approval. Luke 15:31 – Everything Father has is ours, because we are always with father. Are you working for approval? Our identity is in the Father. He didn’t ask us to work or prove that we belong to him. We are His.

“Let’s work from a place of from approval, rather than for approval”

OBS 2) Succeed to be accepted. Luke 15:29. How often have we felt this way that we need to have a perfect record to be accepted? To have ticked the correct boxes in order to feel accepted?

“God accepts us as we are, to become like him. Perfection is not acceptance”

OBS 3) Live by love of law and not by the law of love. Older brother lived by the ‘law’, and not by love. He perceived his father’s instructions as orders, so much that the Father’s love was overshadowed. The misplaced joy of having his younger brother back was judged by love of the law the elder had.

“Live by the law of love, and not by love of the law”

OBS 4) Life is driven by performance instead of from position. The world teaches us that the harder we work, the more we get, but yet the emptier we feel. 

Your value isn’t in your performance, our value is from our position in Christ, joint heirs of God”


Chances are, we have all felt like the older brother at times, it’s likely we have some form of callous of resentfulness, hurt, unmet expectations, bitterness. 

If this has triggered something within you or pushed some buttons, I’d encourage you to trace it, trace where this feeling come from, perhaps from an incident when you were younger. Then to face it, this ‘lie’ of how we view ourselves. And then replace it with God’s truth and his promises.


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1 year ago

Great post Sam. I think the following verses are great to remember along with knowing everything we are given is from God.
“Let’s work from a place of from approval, rather than for approval”
“God accepts us as we are, to become like him. Perfection is not acceptance”

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