A TIME TO REJOICE
The scribes and Pharisees were continually critical of the life and ministry of Jesus. They were especially bothered by His love for sinners. In the parable of the prodigal son, the older brother pictures one who, like the Pharisees and scribes, did not really care for backsliders and lost people.
The older brother was a grumbler. It was a time to rejoice and he was complaining. Sadly, there is a similar attitude among Christians today. They complain about everything from the weather to their pastor. This unpleasant spirit of negativism kills churches and destroys testimonies. It renders the greatest potential force on earth (the church) ineffective. Christians must find enough in Christ to make them rejoice or they will never win others to Him.
The older brother was bitter toward the prodigal. Because his heart was not right with his brother, he fell prey to wrong attitudes about a number of things. He began to feel sorry for himself. He exaggerated his own righteousness and his brother's sins. He forgot the blessing of his father's fellowship. He lost sight of his own inheritance. You cannot serve God unless your heart is right with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
The older brother did not care about the wandering one. He worked around the homestead and kept up the buildings but he didn't care about his backslidden brother. And because of that he was unlike his father. Christians who only keep the church buildings in repair and serve on boards but do not care for souls are unlike their Heavenly Father. He cares and so must we, if we are to be like Him.