Scripture: Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. Genesis 37:3-4 ESV
Observation: The remainder of chapter 35 covers the tragic death of Rachel (resulting from a difficult delivery of Benjamin) as well as the passing of Isaac—a grievous season of life for Jacob. The next chapter lists the descendants of Esau, who established the nation of Edom (located in the southwest region of modern-day Jordan). Then, the action picks up in chapter 37 with the introduction of Joseph’s rollercoaster life. The author introduces us to the starry-eyed seventeen-year-old and favored son of the elderly patriarch. Unwisely, Jacob expresses his preferred affections toward Joseph (the son of the favored wife) with the gift of a multi-colored robe that constantly reminds Joseph’s brothers of their father’s favoritism. Not surprisingly, Joseph’s ten older brothers harbor hate toward him and speak harshly to him—a dysfunctional family dynamic that would cause much strife and heartache in any home today.
Takeaway: Revisiting the recurring issue of favoritism (see the April 20 Daily Focus), discrimination seems to run through the family line, whether Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, or Joseph over his older brothers. And in each instance, sibling rivalry and strife ensued. Tragically, we can trace this prejudice and infighting to future generations today in the Middle East. Indeed, favoritism is a learned behavior like all other generational sins. But favoritism ironically shows no actual favor. Partiality hurts all concerned parties. So how do we resist? Here are a few suggestions:
- Foster a teachable attitude. Agree with the Holy Spirit when convicted of showing favoritism.
- Consider the ramifications. We will cause division and strife and ultimately emotionally disable the favored person by instilling an entitlement attitude.
- Be self-aware. Reflect (and solicit incites from others if necessary) on why we are showing partiality; we may be trying to love ourselves vicariously through preferred family members.
- Love as Christ loves us. Sacrificially serve all our family and friends with equanimity, charity, and grace. Thus, we will need to resist people-pleasing and seek the welfare of even those whose company we find difficult.
When we follow this plan of action, we will discover how enriching our lives can be, for we transform not only our attitudes but our perspective of those we find challenging to love. In short, when we resist favoritism and seek to bless others, we bring out the best in ourselves and those around us.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that the only partiality you show is against sin. And most importantly, we thank you for pouring out your favor on us through your Son. Would you please help us cooperate with your Holy Spirit and mature in our thoughts and behavior that we might resist favoritism and seek the welfare of those you bring across our path? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling