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 an ornate 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.
Favoritism or partiality have devastating consequences. When we look back on biblical history, we discover that Abraham favored Isaac over Ishmael. Isaac favored Esau over Jacob. Jacob favored Joseph over his other sons. In each one of these cases, the consequences of partiality or favoritism had devastating consequences for the family and for the nation of Israel. In the above text, we see the negative impact that Jacob’s favoritism had on his family. Verse four reads, “When his (Joseph’s) brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” You already know that this is not going to end well.
Jacob’s favoritism of Joseph birthed hatred and resentment in the heart of his other sons. Just a few verses later, we see this hatred reach its climax. First, they threw Joseph into a pit to die. Then when the opportunity presented itself, they sold their brother to slave traders who were on their way to Egypt. Joseph would spend the next several years as a slave and then a prisoner in Pharaoh’s dungeon. I can’t imagine the hurt and betrayal that Joseph felt. As a matter of fact, I can’t imagine the hurt and pain that Joseph’s brothers felt knowing that their father loved Joseph more than them. This was one messed-up family! But looking back, we see that this sin of partiality was passed down for three generations, and the consequences were devastating.
So, what do we learn from this dysfunctional family? Favoritism or partiality births anger, hatred, bitterness, and resentment. This is true in the life of a family or in the life of a nation. The anger and bitterness we are seeing in our country should not surprise us. When there is a history of certain people groups being treated unfairly, then we should expect righteousness to rise up against unrighteousness. We are currently experiencing the consequences of years of systematic racism in our country. Today, I saw a picture of a sign that read, “The Sin of Silence.” This reminded me of a couple of Scripture verses, “Do not share in the sin of others,” and, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” When we fail to stand up for injustice, when we remain silent when injustice occurs, we sin! There is no place for partiality or prejudice in Christ’s church. The sin of silence is just as devastating as the sin of racism.
Questions to Ponder:
Did you come from a family where partiality or favoritism was practiced? If so, how did this impact your family? What is the difference between the sin of silence and the sin of racism? Have you ever failed to act when you saw injustice happening? If yes, if you could go back in time, what would you do differently? Do you understand the devastating consequences of prejudice in our country today?
- Ask God to protect your heart from growing a root of bitterness. Ask Him to empower His people to pray for their enemies.
- Ask God to protect anyone who is oppressed. Ask God to give them strength and people to come alongside of them to be an encouragement.
- Ask God to heal your heart and mind so that you can fully respond to the Spirit’s leading in your life.
Lord of heaven and earth, I ask that You shine Your glory and light into every heart that wants to see and wants to know. Reveal to me my wicked ways regarding partiality, racism, passivity, laziness, self-centeredness. You are so gracious God. You are so merciful and compassionate. Thank You for being slow to anger and rich in love. Shepherd my heart. I want to be counted worthy. I want to be counted blameless and holy before You Lord. Take me deeper into the place of servanthood. Teach me and teach Your Church to pick up the towel and wash other people’s feet. Give me a willing spirit oh God. In the Name of Jesus Christ, I ask. Amen.