Abby yanked the weed out of the garden, nearly taking the baby cornstalk along with it. She glared over at her brother Matt. He and Dad were weeding the other side of the garden as if nothing was wrong.
She couldn’t believe it. Matt had wasted his whole month’s allowance, but he wasn’t getting punished for it. She would never do anything like that. She always saved her money for the collection plate at church and put more than Matt ever did into the bank. She had spent weeks helping her dad in the garden like a good girl when Matt was off having fun. What did she get for being so good? Nothing!
She threw the weed onto the ground and stomped away. She was sick of this. She might as well not help at all. When she was away from the garden, she plopped onto the grass underneath a tree and crossed her arms. Let Dad and Matt weed the garden. They didn’t want her anyway.
A moment later, her dad eased to the ground beside her. “What’s wrong, Abby?”
Abby hugged her knees and turned her back to her dad. “You didn’t punish Matt.”
“His guilt and my disappointment was punishment enough. He learned his lesson.” Her dad said. “And, it isn’t your business to see that he is punished. That is between me and him.”
“But you’d punish me if I did something like that.” Abby crossed her arms tighter as if she could strangle her anger with her arms. “It’s not fair. Why do I have to work so much harder than he does?”
Her dad shifted so that he was now kneeling in front of her. “You have always been more responsible, so I expect more out of you. That doesn’t mean I love you any less. You are my daughter. My love does not have to be earned by working hard. You already have it.” Her dad leaned forward and hugged her. “I want you to work hard because you love me, not because you feel you need to earn my love.”
Abby nodded and hugged her dad back.
Questions to think about:
- Read Luke 15:11-32 by yourself or with your parents. How was Abby like the older brother in the story? Are you ever like Abby?
- Both the older brother and Abby had to be reminded that their fathers’ love was freely given, not earned through hard work. How does this remind us of how God loves us?
Fill in the blanks in the below verses:
Psalm 103:13 – “Like a ____________ pitieth his ____________, so the _________ pitieth them that ________ him.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by _________ are ye saved through __________; and not of yourselves: it is a __________ of God. Not of __________, lest any __________ should __________.”