I’ve been reading again the story of Joseph and his family in the book of Genesis. Here are a few quick notes:
The Brothers of Joseph:
Had a brother who robbed them of their father’s devotion – Genesis 37:3
Were humiliated by their brother’s dreams – Genesis 37:5-11
Were moved by envy to murderous anger – Genesis 37:11, 18-2
…and betrayed their brother and father
Yet received grace. – Genesis 45:1-11
Raised in a self-centered, undirected family.
Jacob was busy getting over on Laban – Genesis 30:25-43, 31:7-20
Rachel and Leah were busy getting over on each other – Genesis 29:31-30:24
-the children, and the servants of each, were pawns for getting at the heart of Jacob
Aside from that, Laban, the children’s grandfather, is trying to cheat their father Jacob, Jacob has already cheated his brother Esau, and Jacob is getting ready for a wrestling match with the angel of God! (Genesis 32:22-30)
Jacob is a striver with God and man – Genesis 32:28
Is it any wonder that by the time the family gets to Canaan the sons of Jacob are conniving, deceitful, and small hearted? Genesis 34:13 – even when they’re in the right they lie!
But, for all that, God is with Jacob and in the midst of all this He reiterates the promise made previously to Abraham and Isaac – Genesis 35:1-15. God’s promise stands, not because of righteousness of man, but because of God promised it. And Jacob lived by faith – Hebrews 11:21. But that doesn’t mean no mistakes were made. And those mistakes are at the heart of the problem we see in Genesis 37 and 39
God can take all the bad and make it good, but look at all the misery, uncertainty, fear, and threat that filled these years. Wouldn’t God have found a way to preserve them even if they hadn’t acted corruptly?
It is the same with us. We all stumble often, James says, and God can make all things work together for good anyway. If we endure the chastening, it will afterward yield peaceable fruit – Hebrews 12:11
But let us not sin that good may come! Romans 3:8:. There is a better way.
A few applications:
What becomes of our children when moms and dads are so focused on their own schemes that they neglect the welfare of their children?
Or when the parents act corruptly to get their way, what do the children learn?
When adults are self-centered, and the kids are left to themselves, are they inclined to good things, or mischievous things? Proverbs 22:5
At church, when the parents are focused merely on their own edification, do we pay attention to whether our kids are paying attention? Or when we let the kids sit with their friends – it makes church more fun for them and it makes it easier for us to focus on the service, right? But are the kids worshiping then? Or are they passing notes, joking around, and spacing out? Can we be guilty of neglecting them right here in this good place?
And then, after worship – as the adults enjoy good fellowship and conversation and the kids are turned loose, is it just clean honest fun the kids are having? I know I sometimes come home to angry kids with bad attitudes after 45 minutes left to themselves after church with their friends.
It’s worth acknowledging that no matter how good your child is, and mine, the influence they have on one another is not always good. They are children and we are parents for a reason. We need to be wise and be aware of what’s going on. Or better yet, include our children with us. Let them be where we are after church or, let us go where they are.
The story of Joseph and his brothers is the story of a family run amuck. I have no doubt that Jacob was a faithful man – a well-intentioned man. But his weaknesses carried consequences for his family. As do ours. May we strive to recognize them and overcome them.