Genesis 37 provides us with a plot right out of some of the most cantankerous and dysfunctional homes we can think of from a “reality” tv series.  You know the ones… They share the worst possible dirty laundry on national tv and then cannot believe it when NO ONE likes them and the public is voting them off as soon as possible.  It is a train wreck.  And the tv viewing public cannot NOT watch a train wreck.

When I read Genesis 37, my mind races towards those kinds of thoughts.  Why in the world is that in there?  This makes me a little uncomfortable.  This is embarrassing.  How could this happen?  What were they thinking?  I need to read more!  In a chapter of the Bible where we have more narrative than application, there is much that speaks to the degradation of the human soul.  We hate.  We are jealous.  We are angry.  We become bitter.  To make matters worse, we take out those actions and feelings on other people.  Whether they were part of our resulting attitude or not, we will take it out on someone.
Joseph was loved more by his father.  I could spend a long time writing about the disaster of parents who pick one of their children and deem them, “The Golden Child”.  Then, Joseph, so excited about the dreams he was having, makes matters worse by proclaiming everyone was bowing down to him in his dreams.  I can just see the looks on those guys faces as he says this.  First, dad makes him that beautiful multi-colored coat.  Now you’re telling me you’re having dreams about us bowing down…. TO YOU?  In a day and age where dreams meant something, this was big news.
When the opportunity came for them to do something about their animosity and hatred, they jumped at the opportunity.  Doesn’t that speak to our character?  What do we do if we have the chance?  How do we act if we think we can get away with something?
Judah, at least felt guilty about killing him.  But then, thought we should make some money off of him.  Of all the brothers, it seems Reuben was heartbroken by what took place.  Except when they got home and told their father they “found” his garment ripped up and bloodied, he even went along with their lies.  If you are keeping score, this tragic account went from anger, to jealousy, to hatred, to a plot to murder, to selling their BROTHER into slavery and lying about it to cover it up.  It sickens me to think of family selling someone into slavery.  Writing that last sentence is even hard for me to fathom.  To hate a family member so much that, when the opportunity arrises, you sell that person into a life of slavery, if beyond my comprehension.  Yet, they did that, then covered it up with lies.
This chapter tucked away in Genesis reminds us that 1.  God is Sovereign.  Yes, Joseph ended up where God wanted him.  Yes, it all worked out for a faithful man of God.  Yes, in the end God was glorified (see chapters 47-50).  Having said all of that, there is no place for jealous, hatred, and anger for a child of God.  Look where it lead to in the lives of Jacob’s children.
What do we do then when we become angry?  How do we handle these type of emotions?  How do we approach this type of behavior in our heart?  Let’s take a look at a few things that will help us avoid these type of pitfalls.
  1.  Ask God to search our hearts and cleanse us.  Doing this enables us to avoid sin “smoldering”.  When sin is allowed to sit, it is like a rotten piece of fruit; nothing good comes from it.
  2. Admit our sin. One of the problems Christians have is admitting they sin.  That is a massive problem of ego and pride.  We need to admit that what we did was sin.  We need to admit that God has shown us our sin.  This is a natural healthy process of repentance in the life of a Christian.
  3. Confess the sin that has been shown in our lives.  Ask humbly that God forgives us.  Now, this needs to be a sincere event.  Many are “sorry” for their sin.  As in, they are “sorry” they were caught.  We need Christians to be truly repulsed by their own sin.  Admit it is sin.  Confess that sin before a holy, righteous God and accept that he is faithful to forgive us.
  4. Realize that people do not always intentionally do things to wrong us.  This is key:  Do not allow someone else to dictate your feelings.  Those feeling you are having are your choice.  Let that thought gain a little steam in your heart and mind.  I choose to become angry when someone says something to me.  No one “made” me get angry.  I chose that reaction.  You see, at the very heart of this conversation we must realize that we are reacting.  We are choosing to react to something.  We can either chose to do right, or lead down a path that may lead to corruption.
In closing, lets consider James 1:14-15, which says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desire and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”  There it is, spelled out in typical New Testament formula for us.  When we allow sin to grow it will destroy us.  Is anything destroying you? Let’s ask God to rid this progression in our lives so that we might be used for His use and not our own wicked devices.