Once upon a time there were two brothers very close in age who often dressed alike. They roughhoused, played cops and robbers, and tricked one another just for fun. But one brother tricked the other way too much. Slyly, the older brother would steal gold and silver coins from the younger brother and spend them on himself.

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When the younger brother told his father about it, the father would always side with the older brother who loved to tell lies so convincingly. Again and again, the older brother would charm their father into thinking that he was the good son. The younger brother felt sad about this because he knew his brother’s stories were not true.

The brothers grew up, and the older brother tried to beg, borrow, earn—and even steal—many more precious coins. This brother put his money into a pocket full of holes. He wasted his money on big boats, hard drink, and large houses he could not afford. The younger brother earned his money the hard way and loved to serve the Lord with all his heart though he didn’t pretend to be rich with coins. His wealth was his family, his church, his ministry, and his heavenly Father.

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When the brothers became older, their paths grew even farther and farther apart. One day the older brother took a giant leap into a path that was not good. Along with other men, he took piles and piles of coins from people he couldn’t pay back. He had made a very, very bad decision. Soon, he landed in prison for an extremely long “time out.”

. . . to be continued