Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more…So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.Genesis 37:5,8
Hatred. One of the most powerful emotions known to mankind. Also one of the most deadly. The history of humanity reads like a testimonial to it’s destructive nature. Hardly a nation or people have been spared it’s wrath. Generally it’s roots can be attributed to one of two main seeds. Fear. Or jealousy. We fear the unknown. We fear differences. Left unattended fear will always give birth to hatred. We grow to hate the thing that causes us to be afraid. In the same way, jealousy eventually gives birth to hatred. We want what others have. Whether it be possessions, position, or perceived pleasure, we long after things that seem elusive and unattainable. But rather than discovering contentment and satisfaction in our own blessings we allow our jealousy to become hatred. We grow to hate the person we envy.
There was no denying that Joseph was the object of his father’s favoritism. The Bible makes it clear that Jacob loved him more than the other brothers. And now it appeared that he was also the object of God’s favor. He had been given special responsibilities (reporting on his brothers), he had been given special gifts (the varicolored tunic), and now he had become the recipient of special dreams. Only 17 years of age and already he seems to have the world at his feet. In fact, according to the dream, he would one day have his brothers at his feet. Literally. Little wonder that the brothers struggled with jealousy. Imagine the scene. They had settled for the leftovers of their father’s love. They had labored in the fields while Joseph had been given the run of the family business. And now even God Himself seemed to be shining the light of divine favor upon their younger sibling.
There is a lesson here for all of us. For now let’s put aside Joseph’s responsibility in this whole situation. Let’s also lay aside Jacob’s failings. See, the temptation in life is to point the finger of blame at others. We become jealous. We become envious. But instead of dealing with the real issue at hand we fault others for our own failings. “This is all my parent’s fault. They always loved my sibling more than me. This is my sibling’s fault. Everything came easy for them. Everyone liked them.” You know, that may well be true. But unfortunately, it does not excuse our own behavior. We cannot control what other people say or do but we can control our response. And that is where these brothers failed. When they should have been rejoicing they were murmuring. When they should have been congratulating they were busy complaining. Instead of acting like family they were acting like foes.
How about us? How about our immediate families? How about our relationship with the family of God? Have we allowed another’s a favor to become a source of strife? Have we allowed another’s blessings to become a cause for jealousy? Are we complaining when we should be celebrating? Criticizing instead of congratulating? The Bible tells us that true love, “…is not jealous,…does not seek its own,…” Each of us needs to be on our guard against the poison of jealousy. Left untreated it will fester and become hatred. The end result? Family members become enemies. God’s children become separated. God has made us His children. And that means we are now a family. Let’s all learn to celebrate one another’s blessings. Instead of jealousy and hatred let’s pursue contentment and love. Let’s stop acting like foes and start acting like a family.