To illustrate the point [about the celebration at finding something that was lost] further, Jesus told them this story: "A man had two sons. The younger son told his father, 'I want my share of your estate now before you die.' So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons."
— Luke 15:11-12 NLT
Just as in the case of the two previous stories, this tale of two sons is told to illustrate God's joy over a sinner coming to him. In this story, one son was rebellious and left home. When he asked for his inheritance before his father died, he basically told his dad that he was no better than dead! The other son, however, never really seemed to be at home with the father — he took his share of the inheritance, the larger share since he was the older son, and stayed at home working out of a sense of slaving duty.  Neither son knew the heart of the father. Both broke his heart as the story progressed.  However, the father remained true to his love and sought to bless and redeem both. My guess is that at different times in our lives, we actually play the part of each son — self-righteous and loveless like the older son or rebellious and selfish like the younger son. How can we thank God for loving us in either condition and for working with us to help us know what it means to be his forgiven and holy child? We can dedicate our lives to serving him.
Father God, forgive me. I know that I have not always lived my life in a way that has blessed you as my Father. Thank you for your patience and your mercy. Thank you for letting me feel the sting of my sin and the consequences of my rebellion. Thank you for confronting my heart when it is unforgiving toward others. Thank you for longing to make my life a place of joy, celebration, relationship, and reunion. In Jesus' name, I offer you my thanks and praise. Amen.