It’s a mark of immaturity to simply focus on our selfish pleasures to the neglect of our duty and responsibility to others. Maturity calls for discipline to fulfill our duties even when we don’t feel like it. But all too often this has caused us to become detached from our hearts as we slave under the expectations of a dry and empty duty.
This seemed to be the case with the older brother in the prodigal son story. While he was very dutiful in his labors, he didn’t know how to enjoy the abundance of goodness in his father’s house. And this led to resentment when he saw his younger brother getting to freely enjoy these things. And we can often trace a similar theme in our own story.
Perhaps we were the good kids growing up. While we weren’t perfect, we generally committed ourselves to doing the right thing. And we continued this as adults. And most days this righteousness gave us a sense of satisfaction – like a constant affirming pat on the back.
But in other moments it felt like we were missing out. And we grew tired of always doing what we were supposed to do when others, like the younger brother, seemed to get to have their cake and eat it too. And it was much easier in these moments to justify our secret sins because it felt like we deserve at least some happiness in our life of duty.
Unfortunately, when we got caught our guilt drove us to simply redouble our efforts of doing the right thing rather than listening to the deep movements of our heart.
God created our souls to drink deeply of joy, beauty, and pleasure. And there’s no lack in his kingdom of these things, even as we faithfully do the work we’ve been called to do. To be sure, we miss the mark when we neglect our responsibilities. But we also miss it when we don’t learn how to cultivate the lives of beauty and joy our hearts crave.
In the end, remain committed to doing everything you’re supposed to do. But don’t let this be a mere empty duty, disconnected from the deep desires of your heart. Work hard and learn to enjoy the goodness and beauty of God to the full.