Scripture: Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Genesis 37:5-8a ESV
Observation: Certainly, his dad, Jacob, did no favor to Joseph by showing favoritism (highlighted by the multi-colored cloak), but youthful Joseph (seventeen years of age) exacerbates animosity with his brothers by naively sharing the above dream. Moreover, Joseph shares a second dream with his brothers and dad that predicts the same act of deference toward Joseph—compounding already strained relations. Resultantly, his brothers would harbor feelings of jealousy that would lead to murderous thoughts and a scheme to sell Joseph into slavery.
Fortunately for Joseph and all of us, God’s word does not return void. As we will explore in greater detail in the upcoming Daily Focus’s, Joseph would overcome adversity and mature in thought, exercising prudence in communicating insights. And his dad and brothers would indeed bow down and show deference to Joseph, the second in command of Egypt.
Takeaway: Naivety is not a virtue but a sign of emotional immaturity. In contrast, when submitted to God’s will, shrewdness provides much gain for the Kingdom of God. Jesus emphasizes this point in his parable of the dishonest manager who garnered support from his master’s merchants before his dismissal. His master commended the manager’s shrewdness, implying that he should have used that same energy and ingenuity to manage his master’s assets properly. Jesus then applies the lesson to workers in the Kingdom of God: that we should be shrewd in managing our Master’s resources (Luke 16:1-13).
So what does this mean to you and me? Wisdom and insight come naturally for some of us, but shrewdness is an acquired skill for most. So how do we mature beyond naivety, exercising astute judgment? There are two paths: learning from others (whether inspirational or cautionary examples) or learning from our own mistakes. Unfortunately, Joseph learned from the school of hard knocks. But we have a decided advantage in this post-resurrection era. The Spirit of God in us will mature us emotionally and spiritually if we exercise humility and remain teachable. He will reveal how our words and actions impact our audiences and quicken our spirits before we speak out of turn. He will garner our attention when we see someone act prudently or naively toward others. And he will provoke others to confront us when we get it wrong. And our Lord’s grace will carry us to the end of this lifelong maturation process (Philippians 1:6).
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for granting us the gift of your Son, who personified shrewdness in defeating the Enemy. Would you please help us to follow his lead and cooperate with your Holy Spirit in moving beyond naivety about ourselves, our fallen world, and the machinations of the devil and instead act shrewdly in growing your kingdom and glorifying your name? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling