Thursday, January 15, 2015

Love Extinguishes the Fuse

There are so many lessons that can be drawn from the account of Joseph's life. To keep each article short, I have decided that the best way to address those lessons is to break them up into a series of articles. I have already considered one incident in his life life--that of not allowing bad experiences to sour us on life and on our viewpoint of others.

Sibling rivalry and jealousy: In Genesis chapter 45, Joseph reveals to his brothers his true identity--that he is in fact their flesh and blood, the brother that they said was dead. He then directs them to go and bring his father Jacob to him. In verse 24 his parting words to them were: "Do not become upset with one another on the way." Why would he say that?

One possible reason is that he may have anticipated that the brothers would start blaming each other for what happened to Joseph and then start arguing how they were going to explain this whole thing to their father. Finger-pointing, scape-goating and blame-shifting could all come into play. In fact, Joseph’s earlier words at Genesis 45:5 definitely point to that being a concern of Joseph’s.

Today, if there is more than one child in a family, sibling strife is probably very common. On a more expansive scope, within the congregations we typically refer to fellow believers as “brothers and sisters” in the faith. This is in keeping with the scriptural precedent. And true to form, even these spiritual relatives can test our patience and love just as blood relatives can. As we make our “way” through life, Joseph’s advice  "Do not become upset with one another on the way," holds just as true today. Since we are all imperfect, it is expected that we will have disagreements with one another. We may thoughtlessly say things we later regret. We may innocently do things that others interpret negatively. Through it all, we should strive to “Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely.” (Colossians 3:13) Indeed, because we already know each and every one of us are imperfect, Peter’s words raise the bar on us--it goes beyond merely “putting up with one another.” Instead, we should “have intense love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.” In this regard, Joseph’s treatment toward his brothers is a living lesson.

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