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Using Abilities Appropriately

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Using Abilities Appropriately

Genesis 37:1-11

Every person can understand the proper use of abilities by looking at some of the mistakes made in this passage. 


     In this movie clip you have a rat who can cook and a chef who can’t cook.  This is discovered in this clip where these two learn to make this unlikely partnership work. 


     These two learn how to do what they do best and they succeed at it.  Sometimes we need to make some mistakes and learn from those mistakes.  I would like to draw your attention to some mistakes that were made in this passage. 

Mistake I.  Gossip

A. Joseph was seventeen years old during this account.  He was the next to the youngest of his father’s children.  He had ten brothers who were older than him and they had three different mothers.  When it came to having influence in the family Joseph was pretty close to the bottom.  His youngest brother Benjamin was also favored among the brothers, but was probably young enough he did not work like the other men in the family did.  In v. 2 we are told that Joseph “brought their father a bad report about them.”  We don’t know for sure what they were doing.  It might have been something that was dangerous for them to do, or it might have been something petty.  These brothers already dislike Joseph, so this gains for him the reputation of being a tattle tale.  It is possible that Joseph is just spreading rumors about his brothers and is reporting petty things to get them into trouble. 

B. We might not know what the problem with the brothers was, but we do know that gossip is wrong.  When a person lies about another person, whether they know it to be a lie or not can be considered gossip.  I believe that telling stories about other people simply for the purpose of getting them into trouble can be considered gossip as well.  That does not mean that we should never talk about other people.  Sometimes we can tell things about them to protect them, or maybe we can use it as a way to get that person some help.  If Joseph was trying to protect his brothers then he was justified, and it seems that the historical evidence points to this kind of thing.  However, if he was just trying to get his brothers in trouble that would be gossip and it would be wrong. 

C. I believe that there are times when we share information for the wrong reasons.  Just because I might know something about somebody does not mean I need to tell other people about that.  It might just be best to keep quiet.  I think that Joseph was a favored son; he had very little influence with his older brothers, so he went and talked to his father.  Make sure that when you are sharing information about other people that you have good reasons for doing it. 

Mistake II.  Favoritism

A. Joseph was the oldest son of Rachael.  She was the favorite wife of Jacob, and yet she was the last one to have a child.  Rachael only gave birth to two sons, the younger son was Benjamin, and she died in the process of giving birth to this boy.  Consequently, this all came together to make Joseph and Benjamin favored among their father’s children.  We are even told in v. 3 “Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons.”  There is not really anything that says that favoritism is forbidden, but there are places that indicate that it creates tension.  That is what happened in this passage.  Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children, and his other children knew of this favoritism.  It created other problems in the family.  Jacob further created problems by giving his son something that none of the other children had, he gave him a richly ornamented robe. 

B. I would guess that most of the boys in his family simply had their robes altered to fit them, or maybe they had hand me downs.  That is except for Joseph who got a brand new robe.  He was given something that no one else had received, and it appeared that it was a fairly rich looking robe.  Joseph stood out among his brothers and it certainly was not in a positive sort of a way. 

C. Other words that we use for favoritism are prejudice, and discrimination.  These are things that tend to drive people away.  Jacob was the favored son of his father, but the fact that everyone knew it created problems in the family.  I would guess that Jacob did not have any intentions of creating this sibling rivalry.  He did not want to cause problems among the brothers.  From his perspective this was the oldest son of his first love Rachael.  The other women he had as wives were thrust upon him, but Rachael was his true love and Joseph was the oldest son of that wife.  By playing favorites he creates problems in his family. 

D. I believe that we will always have favorites, but we should be cautious that this does not become an issue of discrimination. 

Mistake III.  Jealousy

A. I would like you to realize what Jealousy does here and really any time it is exhibited.  In v. 4 we are told that Joseph’s brothers hated him.  The reason for this hate is because Jacob their father loved Joseph more than any of the other sons.  This jealousy that Joseph’s brothers feel for him is demonstrated in some very disturbing ways.  First his brothers see that Joseph is coming so they plot to kill him.  Ruben, the oldest, feels that this is a bad idea.  He appears to have some compassion, even though he is jealous he does not want to harm his brother.  So they trap his for a period of time.  Then, when a caravan of Ishmaelites headed for Egypt.  They realize this might be an excellent time to sell his brother into slavery. 

B. I don’t know what kind of men the brothers were.  They seem to be a rebellious group.  Their jealousy continues to grow and they eventually decide to do some things that will harm their brother and their father.  They make Jacob think that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.  The shock of knowing that his favorite son had been killed was overwhelming for the old man.  He was devastated.  So what the brothers did not only hurt Joseph, but it also hurt their father Jacob.  It was a sad time for the family.  These men had lied, kidnapped and in their minds murdered their brother, all because of their jealousy. 

C. The jealousy of these men was destructive.  If we allow jealousy to get into our lives we are going to find the same thing.  It will eat away at us on the inside.  It will also hurt other people who are around us.  From the time that we are we can see that God does not like jealousy.  Really jealousy serves no beneficial purpose.  All that it does for us is destructive.  It tears people down and it hurts others. 

Mistake IV.  Pride

A. Finally as we look at Joseph, we must admit that he was not the most tactful individual.  He might have been a man who as full of pride or he might just have been naive.  He has these dreams that place him above his siblings and even his parents.  Maybe he told his dreams to his brothers because he knew that it would agitate them.  He certainly does not demonstrate good taste when he tells his story.  In the first dream he and his brothers are tying up stalks of grain. In the dream his bundle that he was tying up was surrounded by his brother’s bundles who all bowed down to his bundle.  This certainly was a dream in which Joseph would because superior to his brothers.  This was something that was happening, but it was not something that his brothers liked or appreciated.  His second dream is basically the same as the first.  This time it is stars.  The sun and moon, presumable representing mom and dad, and eleven stars, presumably brothers, all bowing down to him.  If this is the way that Joseph interpreted this,

B. This would have been an exciting prospect for Joseph.  He was probably a guy who was anxious to get along with his brothers.  He wanted his brothers to like him.  This might have been what motivated him to communicate his dreams.  I think that a lot of what Joseph was saying was so that he would be liked.  Clearly this had the opposite effect.  He was a man who was seen to be full of pride.  This is demonstrated in the rebuke by his father in v. 10. 

C. Our pride much like our jealousy causes us problems.  In Joseph’s case he was destined to become the leader of his people.  For many it is just building us up.  It is making ourselves something that we are not.  Even if we are telling someone something about us that is true, but not needed to be told, it could be pride.  Our pride has the potential of hurting the people who are around us.  It can cause them to act in unthinkable ways.  In his pride he was becoming more important than his brothers and this could potentially lead to life where a person believes they don’t need God either.  Pride is typically destructive.  We need to be careful of how we handle pride and what place it has in our life. 



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