Monday, March 2, 2009

Pure water from a poisoned well.

Joseph Coat of Many Colors Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.
Genesis 37:3-4

Jacob could not seem to rise above the sins of his father. Favoritism had ruined his early years and poisoned his relationship with his brother, Esau. Yet he cannot seem to remember that pain when he magnifies the problem of playing favorites by elevating his youngest son, Joseph over all the others in his household. This favoritism resulted in his home looking more like a gang warfare zone with rivalries, sexual exploits, plots to murder, and deceit.

Joseph was innocently caught in the after affects of his father's sinful choices. Some people like to fault the young man for bringing a bad report to his father of his brother's behavior, but nowhere in scripture are we told that he lied about it or was malicious in intent. His brothers did behave badly, as evidenced by everything else we see them doing in this chapter and beyond. I believe he was speaking the truth in love when he did so. But because of the pre-existing animosity between Joseph and his family, no good would come of it.

Sometimes other people poison the well for us. Jacob poisoned the relationship that Joseph might have had with his brothers by giving him the robe that set him apart. He clearly favored him and the resentment that followed was inevitable. But Joseph had no control over that. In fact, his story in Genesis is remarkable in that despite everyone else around him being less than obedient, often directly defying God, Joseph remains constantly true, full of mature character, and used by God despite his experience.

So there is hope. All of us can be lifted up by God beyond the circumstances of sin around us that we may have no control over. I can control my response to temptation. I cannot control what others may do to me or their behaviors. And so Joseph shows us how God can graciously reward obedience even while we are sinned against repeatedly. There is a lot of hope in his story.

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