The Parable of Legalism
The older brother’s response to the father's treatment of the prodigal son is a tremendous illustration of the problem with performance-based religion or legalism. The performance-based person becomes angry because they believe they have earned everything they have gotten and grace is not fair to them. Further, the performance-based person sincerely believes that their efforts are never appreciated enough. So this is how the older brother responded:
28 "But he became angry, and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began entreating him.
29 But he answered and said to his father, 'Look! For so many years I have been serving you, and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a kid, that I might be merry with my friends;
30 but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with harlots, you killed the fattened calf for him.'
31 And he said to him, 'My child, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.'"
The older brother who at the beginning of the parable was given two-thirds of property acted like he was a pauper. To be a performance-based person you have to sincerely believe you are poverty-stricken and you need to earn everything you get. A grace person already has been given everything and will continue to be given that which he or she will never deserve.
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