Did you ever realize that in the writing of Genesis, Joseph story is 13 chapters long? That is 1/5 of the book. Huh! I am finding that is not too surprising; because I think God wants to say something very profound to Christ followers through the life of Joseph.
In chapter 37, I found some interesting little tidbits that really…well…spoke to me. God began to show how relationships in our lives can affect our future. I began to seek out answers to some questions like... Can God use me even when I have screwed up big time? What about those flawed relationships in my own life? How have I let any of those flaws shape my future? What am I letting God do about it?
Who knew that a coat could cause so much trouble? It was just a coat right?
A Great Father Still Flawed
The great father of the Hebrew nation, Jacob…Israel… still even in his old age was flawed. He chose a favorite son. In doing so, he pitted his other sons against Joseph. Jacob was not being an example to his boys. He was not showing them how God loves us. God does not have favorites…thank goodness or I would never be able to stand in the same room with people like Billy Graham, Corrie Ten Boom, or Mother Teresa.
Wow, sometimes we think of giants of Bible as such holy people and that we can never be like them. I mean come on, after all Jacob went through….man oh man, he literally wrestled with God for goodness sake. The truth is, we are all flawed until we die, simply because we are human. But it is only by God’s grace that covers us and makes a pure. God is always working on our hearts. In this life, we will never be perfect. However, God is always working out His holiness in us until our very last breath if we let Him.
- How many times do I still fail?
- How many times do I share favoritism?
Joseph’s brothers….yeah they had a right to be miffed. No child wants to be loved less than another child. That is not how God loves us. We are not loved on a scale. However, those boys had a decision to make. They could let what their father said about them define them or they could let their heavenly Father define them.
They decided to go in the wrong direction. They decided to go the direction of hate. The moment we let those feeling arise inside of us, it is like a cancer that eats away every good thing that God wants to do. It can take over to the point that we can’t even hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling us to stop what we are doing and turn away from sin. Those boys could not hear the Spirit as they were devising a plan to kill their brother over a coat and a dream.
- Have I let hate slip into my heart towards anyone?
- Has bitterness got a hold of me?
Reuben, the oldest brother, has a tender heart. Many may see him as a little bit of a hero in this story, because he doesn’t want to kill Joseph and finds a way to talk his brothers out of it. But here is the deal, Reuben was the first born, the heir, he had a lot of ability to change the course of this story…but he didn’t.
I see Reuben as missed opportunity for greatness. He let fear and his own anger keep him from doing the complete right thing. He only went half way with God. He knew killing Joseph was wrong. But he didn’t have enough courage to say, “No Brothers! This is an evil plan in the eyes of the Lord. We will not kill our brother or not let any evil come to him.” Those were never his words or actions although it was his intent. Life is full of good intentions. But God looks at our actions!!!
- Am I full of just good intentions, but no action?
- Am I holding back anything from God?
Selfish Greedy Brother
Judah…well he just took the change of course in their plan to be greedy and make some money off his brother. How many times do we use people’s misfortune for our gain? Sadly, maybe more than we want to admit.
- Have I used people for my selfish gain or ambition?
- Do I only care about myself?
A Prideful Son
Lastly, Joseph the amazing man of God in our story. Yet, I can’t escape his flaw in this story as it begins to unfold. You see Joseph is just 17 when he receives his “Coat of Many Colors” and I don’t think he was an idiot even though he was young. He knew what that special coat meant and he knew how his brothers treated him after. He knew that he was his dad’s favorite. I think he wore that coat with pride.
When he has the two dreams, I think we see this pride come out. There was absolutely nothing wrong with what God spoke to him in his dreams. I think the problem arises in Joseph’s approach as he shares it with his brothers. He does not come humbly to his brothers. In fact, it was kind of like dropping a ninja kick to a wasp’s nest and expecting them to just be okay with it. Even his own father rebukes him. I think the reaction from his brothers and dad is very telling of the attitude that Joseph was displaying. Even Joseph is flawed.
- Have I let my gifts become more important than people?
- Have I become prideful?
Yet, in all our flaws God is working out an amazing story of Grace. He is not surprised by our mistakes or the mistakes of others in our lives. He knows how to use them. God was about to work out the most amazing story of struggle, perseverance, holiness, integrity, leadership, courage, forgiveness, love, and provision found in the Bible through the most flawed of men. Thank God that he uses us in all our flaws. Thank goodness in the end He can redeem us even when we are drowning in a grand mess of our own sin. Thank God, He pulls us up out of the pit when we cry out to him.
New Living Translation (NLT)
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Thank you Jesus that you love us...flaws and all!