So our reading from Genesis 37 today was about the jealous attitude of Joseph’s brothers.
Just a couple of thoughts - anybody else notice how good Joseph is when asked to leave his comfortable home in Hebron and travel sixty miles to Shechem? When asked by his father he says “I am ready”. And when he gets to Shechem, his brothers were not there. But he did not quit and go home. He continued looking for them until he found them in Dothan some twenty miles away. 80 miles in hard country on his own. Now that’s what I call going the extra mile! A question that comes to my mind is, are we willing to do that for our heavenly father let alone our earthly one?
And when looking at our text another thought is this - the thoughts of our mind can become the actions of our body. The jealous brothers resented Joseph and they could not get him out of their mind. The thought of Joseph consumed them.
I know this feeling, when I went on an Alpha course after we started to go to Church someone on the course said that we should forgive anyone that had done anything wrong to us. I said that there were somethings that we can’t forgive. Asked what that was I told this story: I hated two guys who worked for my company. But the lady on the Alpha course said if you believe in Jesus you should ask God to forgive them. I looked her straight in the eye and said that is not going to happen - hell will freeze first! “Well” she said in a loving voice “perhaps you could ask God to bless them?” “That ain’t going to happen either” I said, and she left it there. But God had other plans and I kept thinking about it and in the end I thought “Alright I will ask God to bless then they won’t know and it will stop it going around in my head, so I prayed a pray asking God to bless them.” And do you know what I was blessed! I stopped fixating on them and then some time later I asked God to forgive them and them God took all the hate away from me when I saw them. I received God’s peace.
So we read in v 18 “When they saw him afar off, they conspired against him to kill him…” Now we see the true heart of the brothers - they are consumed by jealousy’s for Joseph, consumed by hate. Their plotting against Joseph was a result of their jealousy - they wanted to be top dog with Jacob their father. They wanted a special coat. Their minds had become perverted. If we are to overcome evil in our own lives, we must start the attack on the evil in our thoughts. Evil thoughts must be stopped, or they will lead to evil acts.
Jesus calls us to “‘Love the Lord our God with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our minds.’ And to: ‘Love our neighbour as our self.’ And our Bible tells us about this in Proverbs 23:7, It says “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” And the apostle John in his letter 1 John 3:13-15 says ” Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.”
Do we show love in our body language? Are we showing Jesus, or are we showing an intolerance of others? We may think of an action, we may wish that the person was dead. Or, by ignoring another person, we may treat them as if they were dead! Hatred can be shown passively or actively.
I heard this story very recently that a person was serving tea and coffee at a church (not this one) they said this some man came to the counter and smiled at me so I blanked them because I did not know them. What is that saying about church which is the body of Christ. As it turn that person did know the man and ended up totally embarrassed.
What does it cost to smile at people to be friendly to be open to say good morning or a nice hello, if we call ourselves Christians this should be easy if we can’t do this in church where can we do it. If we are not showing love to all around us then we cannot call ourselves Christians
If we believe in God then we know there is the other fellow the enemy Jesus said that “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.” We need to remember that Satan wants to destroy us but we need to not be oblivious to this. Peter exhorts us to “Be clear-headed, be watchful; because your enemy the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NKJV)
And Satan had a hold of the brothers “They conspired against him to kill him…” (v.18) So the brothers schemed against Joseph and it was nothing if not very cruel, the bottom line was the wanted to kill Joseph. They stripped Joseph of his lovely coat & cast him into a pit (v. 23, 24) and then without a thought or care sat down to enjoy a meal (v.25).
What a lovely bunch they were, men who can tear the clothes off the back of their brother and throw him down into a hole, leave him there to die and then turn around and say, “Please pass the salt!” It is clear that they were self-centred and to put it nicely a rotten bunch. And only just a bit better than killing him they sell Joseph into slavery (v. 28).
The original plan of the brothers was to kill Joseph. But the scheme was changed to sell Joseph. What caused the change, in part it was Reuben but also when the opportunity come by on a camel it was money – to Judah, money looked better than murder (v.27-28). It was not morals that caused Judah to not murder, but it was money. Judah’s motivation for not murdering Joseph was no compliment of his character. So the brothers realized that by killing Joseph they wouldn’t really gain much. So they pulled him out of the hole and sold him for twenty shekels of silver.
Think about this: it would be hard to imagine that they enjoyed whatever it was they bought with the money. Money is a great motivation and without doubt motivation determines the character of our conduct.
So what is our motivation, what do we want most in life? For me and my house it is to be like Jesus. What is your motivation? Check your motivation do you want to live a live that reflects Jesus?
I would like to finish in prayer: Lord God, thank you that you are a forgiving God and when we do wrong we can come to you and ask for forgiveness and that you will forgive and that we will be set free by the blood of your son our saviour Jesus Christ. Help us Lord to live lives that reflect Jesus into the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.