This verse struck me today as I was reading: But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him. Gen 37:4 (NLT)
The history behind this part of the Bible is not really a secret, and it speaks to the reason that people with multiple children have to work so hard at loving all of their children equally, still the thing that struck me was those last seven words; “They couldn’t say a kind word to him.” I actually read it a couple of times, it’s an interesting statement. It seems that they really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter, but why. I believe that what happens in life is always due to a choice. We make choices every day, and I like to think that I can and for the most part do make the correct choices, so reading that someone couldn’t do something, even if they wanted to makes me wonder.
The thing is my thoughts are wrong on some occasions. We know that Josephs brothers were pretty bad guys in the beginning, if you continue to read the account of what happen, you will find that Joseph can’t shut up about how important he’s going to be, and his brothers can’t see past the anger and bitterness they have in their hearts, and the favoritism that was shown on a regular basis. They toss him in a pit, sell him into slavery and well the saga continues. Still I am not like them am I?
If we have a prayer of making it, of doing the right thing, of proving how much we are worth, of showing God that he needs us and that we are worth saving we must be able to make the right choice, we must be able to be nice and do the right thing…
Paul even had this issue, and it’s in him that we find the only hope we really have. In Romans 7:18, Paul talks about how frustrated he is when it comes to making the right decisions. How hard it is to do the right thing. He talks about how even though he wants to do the right thing, he can’t seem to do it. This concept would seem to support the idea that Joseph’s brothers couldn’t say anything nice to him. It points out how truly sad humanity is. Ultimately no matter how hard humans try, and no matter how good they are, they are going to eventually come up against the wall of their humanity, the inability to not judge others, the difficulty in always telling the truth, the desire to get the dirt on whatever is happening in other people lives.
It took me a long time to realize that I can’t do it all, that I need to rely on God, and the people he put in my life to make up the areas that I was weak in. Paul laments his inability to do the right thing, and then rejoices because for those times that he does make the mistake, and does do the wrong thing, Jesus is not just willing and able but really wants to help us through the issue.
As I live and move and have my being in Christ, something that takes effort on my part there are times that I don’t do the right thing, times that I don’t like people, times that I get angry and react instead of asking for help. So many times that I want to do the right thing, but I don’t and in those times I have the hope that Jesus knew I would not do it right, or make the right decision all the time. He will work in me and through me though, pointing out the areas and helping me through them.
We don’t have a prayer if left to our own devices in our walk with Christ. We will walk away from him, even as we desire to be more like him. That’s just our nature. It is only because of his unfailing, unchanging grace that we can be more like him. So while we don’t have a prayer…we do have Hope.