Jump Start # 3153
Genesis 37:3 “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic.”
Joseph and his coat of many colors—this is something that many of us have heard from early days in children’s Bible classes. What we were not told then was how broken, dysfunctional and destructive that family was. Our passage begins with the text telling us that Israel love Joseph more than all his sons. Today, we call that favoritism.
We all have favorite foods, movies, vacation spots, songs, and even verses in the Bible. But when it comes to family, favoritism breeds jealousy, hatred and destruction, as it did in that home years ago. There is something that seems to be overlooked in this story. Israel made a coat of many colors and it appears that Joseph wore it. He is not five years old. Wearing that colorful coat just flaunted his position with his father before the eyes of his brothers. They didn’t get a coat of many colors, only Joseph. He’s old enough to make decisions. Maybe he should have turned down the coat. Maybe he should have suggested that all the brothers get one. He’s special and the others knew that and they hated him for that.
Now some lessons that we ought to see here:
First, feelings in the home are fragile. Everyone wants to be on top and everyone is fighting for attention. Dinner time can be loud as everyone wants to be heard. Parents have to walk a careful line here. It’s easy for Dads to favor sons and moms to favor daughters. Children will pick up on that quickly. Watch how much time you give to each of your children. Try to be balanced and find what interests they have and pursue that with them.
Second, we can be guilty of making things more difficult. The day that Joseph was taken and put in the pit, he was wearing the coat of many colors. One wonders if he wore that every day. Pushing buttons will eventually lead to a blow up. It did in Israel’s home. The plan was to kill Joseph. Imagine that. Then it shifted to getting rid of him by selling him. Lies were concocted to cover up their wicked plans. Deceit. Evil. Hatred. One must wonder what would have happened had Joseph not worn that coat. Now, is he to blame for this? Not necessarily. Israel is the failure. He created an environment of favoritism. Those who are in, win. Those who are out, lose. The first child. The only daughter. The last child. And, then there are people like me, stuck in the middle. Middle child syndrome only exists if the parents create such an atmosphere. I wonder what would have happened if Joseph allowed each brother to wear the colorful coat. Would that have changed their hearts and their plans?
Third, even within our fellowship favoritism can exist and it can harm our fellowship. Favorite elder. Favorite member. Favorite preacher. We preachers can get jealous. Some can feel left out and before long they’ll leave because of that. So don’t always go to the same shepherd each time you need to talk. Don’t always go to one preacher to talk to. Don’t always have the same family over for dinner. Balance things out. Share with others. Broaden your fellowship. Some can feel out because they are never invited in.
Fourth, even out of troubled homes good can happen. Look at the life story of Joseph. His character is kind, faithful and forgiving. He didn’t hold grudges. He didn’t believe in payback. He spent more time in Egypt than in his homeland. He could have forgotten about his family and his past. But he never did.
So, maybe you grew up knowing that you weren’t the favorite. Are you going to use that the rest of your life as an excuse and are you going to continually refer to that the rest of your life? Maybe you and your siblings did not get along well growing up. And, even as adults, there isn’t much in common these days. You can dismiss all of this as the way you brought up, or you can try to build bridges and make things better today.
Because Israel had a favorite doesn’t mean that the kids had to have favorites. Some have a hard time moving forward from the way they were raised. That seems to have marked them and crippled them for life. Then there are those like Joseph who seem to do so well. It’s a matter of choices. It’s a matter of faith. It’s a matter of realizing that God loves us all and God doesn’t have favorites.
That colorful coat sure caused a lot of trouble. Today, it may be a car, cell phone, a tablet or special outing. It doesn’t take much, but it can sure turn a family upside down.
Do you think you would have worn that colorful coat? Sure is something to consider.