Short daily devotionals for the socially distanced. These are thoughts from my daily time in the word. I use a bible reading plan that will have me in a different section of Scripture every day.
I hope they serve to give you courage and hope. You can subscribe to receive them as a daily email at the bottom of the page.
Monday, April 27th
Reading: Genesis 35-37
3 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. 4 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.
— Ge 37:2–4 (ESV)
Sin leaks, and creeps, and repeats. The multi-generational narrative form of the Old Testament doesn’t hide this from us, in fact, it paints it vividly in painful details of children living with the consequences of their parent’s sins and, all too often, allowing those sins to form patterns that they live out themselves.
Jacob (now Israel) had tricked and deceived his father, and ended up at odds with his brother as a result. Now, his sons are tricking and deceiving their father due to being at odds with their brother. It is a tough pattern to observe and one that I am mindful of as a parent. The patterns of both health and dysfunction that I display will be paths of formative behavior for my children to learn. As Springsteen once said, we are ghosts or ancestors in our children’s lives. We can haunt them as ghosts with our sins, or we can release them in the role of ancestors and at the very least free them so that they sins will be their own. I wrote more about that here.
What is fascinating, though, is what lies at the root of the repeat patterns of sin in Jacob’s story.
People don’t feel loved.
Joseph’s brothers have a massive pain that is inflicted through a lack of love towards them, and this pain, unchecked, leads to bitterness, hatred and resentment. It doesn’t help that Joseph seems completely blind to the pain and exacerbates it through his foolish sharing of what God was showing him (sometimes you should just wait a bit before sharing everything,) but the boys are blinded by pain and fueled by the desire to be loved. In their minds, if they removed the source of their father’s affections, then that would make them feel better, and that obviously doesn’t prove to be true.
This has me reflecting on a couple of questions this morning.
First, do those who are untrusted to my care feel loved by me? Am I creating environments of flourishing around me, where people are secure in my love for them because it is evident and obvious?
Second, are there areas in my life where I am operating out of insecurity and allowing that to become its calloused form, which is anger and ultimately bitterness? Am I like Joseph’s brothers wrongly thinking that I would feel better through the reducing of someone else in order for me to feel promoted in their place? Am I secure in the love that I have from God?
This is as good a season as any for us to reflect on the potential repeat patterns of sin and dysfunction that we could be walking in as a result of not feeling loved, and to check and arrest those patterns with the ultimate multi-generational liberator that is the security that comes from knowing the love of God. Let us be people who walk in and from that ultimate love.
Courage, dear friends. You are loved.