August 16: Joseph and His Brothers

Read Genesis 37:5-8, 18-20

“When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not bring themselves to speak peaceably to him” (v.4).

It’s a dark story of unthinkable hatred. Jealousy turned to hatred turned to virtual murder which led to lies. Today’s reading could fit under at least three of the ten timeless commandments to which we’ve dedicated our summer’s study.

Joseph’s brothers’ jealousy laid the foundation for more sin. It’s not just true for them. It’s what happens today too. When we let envy into our lives, we eventually find ourselves trapped, just like Joseph’s brothers were. But what if those brothers hadn’t taken the bait? If only Joseph’s brothers had seen what they had rather than pined for what they didn’t have.

To be sure, the 17-year-old Joseph wasn’t entirely pure in his ways. We could even say he milked his father’s favoritism for all it was worth. He certainly had no problem letting his brothers know how special and powerful he knew he was when God gave him that dream about ruling over them. While it was true in the end, Joseph’s inability to humbly accept what God had called him to didn’t help his brother’s jealousy problem.

Still, his brothers committed a heinous crime against him and they would be held accountable for their actions, not Joseph. As annoying and bratty as their little brother might have been, only they could have stopped the crime before it started. They could have stopped it by refusing to covet what Joseph had — the coat, their father’s favoritism, a great promise through a dream.

I wonder if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation. Maybe your neighbor has it all — the perfect job with an amazing paycheck, a beautiful home and all the time in the world to keep it in tip-top shape, and a picture-perfect family with kids just as nice as can be. Don’t let yourself get trapped like Joseph’s brothers did. Stop the envy before it begins. Find freedom in God’s way and choose to delight in what He’s given you rather than dismay over what He hasn’t.


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