Do you act like a child or a laborer? Do you feel like a child or a slave with God?
The youngest son might have really messed up bad but he understood something a whole lot more than the older son did. He knew he was a child. He knew he didn't have to earn his father's love. He knew he didn't have to work hard to be accepted and loved. He knew he didn't have to earn his keep. He got it -- he was a child of his father and that is why he was loved.
The older son knew in his head he was his dad's son, but he didn't act like it. He thought he had to earn his dad's love. He thought if I work hard enough, do everything right my father will notice me and reward me.
But his father didn't have to reward him. Everything was already the son's. He just didn't recognize it. He was seeking a servant's wages rather than a son's rights. Rights, a place in a family isn't earned. None of my children are my children because they earned the right to be my children. They are my children because they were born or adopted into my family. I chose to be their mother.
Do you have a child mentality toward God or a worker's mentality? Are you trying to do everything just perfect so God will notice you? So God will bless you?
God wants you to recognize your place -- as His child. And then just accept His love.
If you work from that place, if you do things for God in worship, in gratitude, then that is a good thing. But if you do things for God to convince Him and yourself that you are good enough, you will never win. You will never succeed. You cannot be at peace in a place like that.
It is human nature to do what we can to "earn our way."
That is the world's way.
That isn't God's way.
And that isn't His plan for you or for me.