Healthy Self
April 19, 2023

The Parable of the Two Sons

This Parable of Two Sons teaches us to look with a little more introspect at ourselves, our hearts, and our motives.

Pride is a chief motive with both sons in this parable, but each has a different expression of pride.

One son was guilty of what many of us are guilty of—“conspicuous consumption,” a term coined back in 1899 by Thorstein Veblen in his book, The Theory of the Leisure Class. Conspicuous consumption is when you buy something, not primarily for its usefulness, but for the way it makes you look in the perception of others. Veblen shows us how pride is often the motive behind our decision to make purchases that enable us to proclaim to the world we are wealthy. Steven was guilty of pride, and it was quite obvious, and the entire community could see it.

The other son was guilty of a more hidden type of pride. There is a pride that Reinhold Niebuhr believed is the most dangerous—the pride of virtue, or what the Bible calls self-righteousness. In the four Gospels, you see Jesus’ most searing words aimed at the Pharisees and their self-righteousness. It is the one sin that quickly brings forth His anger. This other son compares himself to his brother who lives up on the hill. He compares their lifestyles and concludes that his is morally superior, and naturally presumes that he is so much more righteous than his brother.Through comparison, each of these men is guilty of pride. However, pride that results in conspicuous consumption is easy to detect when someone is trying to impress you. The problem with self-righteousness is that it is so difficult to see because you are blinded by your own perceived goodness. This is a picture of putting yourself in the place of God as judge, and in the process you are blinded by your presumptuousness.

This parable is paraphrased from Richard E Simmons III in his Modern Parable.

This was in Richard's book: "The Power of a Humble Life"

The Bible says in Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

C.S. Lewis calls pride the utmost evil in his book "Mere Christianity."