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Joseph – The Early Years: Lessons in RelationshipsGenesis 37 • The life of Joseph - a favorite Old Testament character. • “Regardless of how he was treated, in spite of unfair and erroneous accusations, even though he was rejected, abandoned, abused, maligned, and forgotten, he refused to become resentful or bear a grudge or succumb to bitterness.” • (Chuck Swindoll)
Our lives revolve around relationships. • In relationships we face challenges – conflicts – misunderstandings • Background to Joseph: • Joseph one of 12 sons of Jacob (Genesis 29,30)
1. The Causes of Relationship Problems: • a. Self-centeredness • Jacob suffered from a common relational problem – looking out for himself • bribed his brother Esau with a bowl of stew in exchange for his birthright • deceived Isaac to trick his blind father into giving him his brother’s blessing • deceived his uncle Laban by breeding livestock in such a way as to guarantee he would get the best of all the flocks and herds for himself. • Self-centeredness hurts relationships.
b. Favoritism • When we treat one person better than others there will always be problems. • Jacob favored his son, Joseph more than any of his other sons • Jacob openly showed his favoritism for Joseph: • put Joseph in a position of responsibility over his older brothers • gave Joseph a special coat
Parents: we need to guard ourselves from favoritism that can lead to a breakdown in unity and harmony in our own families. • Ephesians 6:4 [ESV] – Fathers, do not to provoke your children to anger. • Jacob’s favoritism provoked his other sons to have a hatred for Joseph. • God wants us to love and respect others; this is the mandate of a follower of Christ. • James 2:1 (NIV84) - My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.
2. The Consequences of Relationship Problems • a. Envy • Genesis 37:3–4 (NIV) - Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Jacob loved Joseph more than his brothers. • Joseph reveals two dreams God gave him about the future. • Joseph’s brothers envied him. • Envy is dangerous emotion. • Song of Solomon 8:6 (NKJV) - “Jealousy is as cruel as the grave” • Proverbs 14:30 (NIV) A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
b. Hatred • Genesis 37:4–5 (NIV) When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. • Hatred is such a strong emotion. • We could use words like resent – dislike - oppose
“An emotional attitude toward persons and things which are opposed, detested, despised and with which one wishes to have no contact or relationship. It is therefore the opposite of love.” • (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament) • Hatred is the opposite of love and destroys relationships. • It breeds dissention and promotes division. • Proverbs 10:12 (NIV) - Hatred stirs up dissension.
Joseph’s family: • Genesis 37:4 (NIV) - When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. • When hatred & resentment take control • we see nothing positive in a person • we have no compliment for them • we have no desire to see God bless that person.
c. Evil Deeds • Genesis 37:19–20 (NIV) - “Here comes that dreamer! …Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” • Envy – hatred – breed evil behaviour • James 3:16 (NIV) - For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. • Damaged relationship can be helped and healed when we bring God into the picture.
3. The Constructive Relationship Process • God rescued Joseph from his brothers’ evil plans • God spared Joseph’s life so that years later he could save his brothers and family from death • Their relationship was later restored. • God wants to bring healing and reconciliation in our relationships as well
a. In step with the Spirit: • Galatians 5:25–26 (NIV) - Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. • Do you want to have positive relationships with others? • It begin with a right relationship with God. • We are saved people with the Holy Spirit living in us so we need to act like saved people.
Leviticus 20:24,26 (NIV) - I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations….You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. • Galatians 5:22 (NIV) – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control • Let us keep in step with the Spirit…by living the fruit of the Spirit in our relationships.
b. The Law of Love • Proverbs 10:12 (NIV) - Hatred stirs up dissension… • …but love covers over all wrongs. • Living the law of love in our relationships • we put others first. • we want what is best for others • we seek God’s blessings on others • Matthew 5:44 (NIV) - [Jesus said]: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
1 Corinthians 13:4-6 (NLT) - Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. • John 13:34–35 (NIV) –“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
c. The Action of Sacrifice • John 15:12–13 (NIV) - My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. • Sacrifice is the opposite of selfishness. • Philippians 2:1–4 (NIV84) - If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. • We live under God’s grace and are called to bring healing in our relationships • let God’s Spirit guide us • let God’s love flow through us • humble ourselves and put others ahead of ourselves • Christ humbled himself and sacrificed his own interests to save you and me.