Better Together: Embraced By Many
We can’t choose our family, but we can choose our friends.
Do you remember the first time you went to your friends for dinner and the shock when you realised that your family did things very differently! Maybe they had their phones at the table, they didn’t have a table, or you didn’t have to wait till everyone had finished eating before leaving? You probably thought, “this is not like my family”.
I know in moments like this we can feel disappointed. Maybe we wanted something we didn’t have, or we wanted to return to something we did have. The Bible story of Joseph (Genesis 37 - 50) and his brothers reminds us how no one has the perfect family, but God is always teaching us how to love one another even through disappointing situations or when we don’t treat each other as we should.
We know from the writer of Genesis that Joseph was 17 years old when he had a dream. Joseph was the youngest, but his Dad’s favourite as he was the son he had in his old age, this made his elder brothers very jealous of him especially as age in this culture had more significance – you can understand why they would find it hard! His father gave Joseph a beautiful coloured robe. After his dream, Joseph told his brothers In the dream he would rule over them. You can imagine that this would have fuelled their dislike for him even further!
Later, we see Joseph thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold to the Ishmaelites as a slave and then stripped of his colourful robe. His brothers had gone further to deceive everyone by dipping it in goat’s blood, so they could blame someone else and tell their father a different story. We don’t know what Joseph’s thoughts or feelings were in this moment, but I can image that he would have been devastated. I know how I feel when I’m frustrated, disappointed or hurt by someone in my family.
Here we see God make good out of a very painful situation.
In the painful story of Joseph’s life (which got worse for him as he is wrongly accused by a woman and then thrown in prison), Joseph could have chosen to hold onto bitterness, ignore God and let the injustice be what ruled him. Instead, he actively chose to forgive his family in obedience to God.
We know from the story that Joseph has had his own family, which meant that years had gone by, and a lot of memories missed, before they are reconciled.
But God is always in the business of redeeming relationships - especially families.
Like Joseph, we are also called to forgive our families when maybe our parents make choices or rules that to us, don’t feel loving or fun. In Ephesians, Paul asks us to:
‘Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you’. (Ephesians 4:32)
We are called to forgive as we have been so graciously forgiven. The only perfect person is Jesus and it’s from his example we learn.
I’m not saying this is easy but forgiving someone even when we don’t think they deserve it, invites Jesus into the situation and he brings freedom for us and joy. Just as we see above, Joseph’s brother’s jealousy killed their joy and bound them carrying a secret for most of their lives. This captive mentality is not what Jesus desires for us.
Here are a few ways we can respond by what we learn through Joseph’s life testimony:
1. What might you need to forgive someone in your family for? It may not be as extreme as what Joseph brothers did to him but when we forgive it still brings freedom to us.
2. Maybe you have a great relationship with your family and nothing immediate jumps to mind. Ephesians 6:2 calls us to honour our parents. How can you change your attitude to honour them more?
3. Like Joseph, Joshua influenced the direction of his family irrespective of his age. Joshua 24:15 reads ‘as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’. How can you help shape how you and your family serve the Lord? If your family don’t know Jesus yet, could this be your prayer?
Joseph learned to embrace his many brothers and forgive them. He didn’t choose his family, but he did choose to allow God to use him greatly, despite his circumstances and injustice. This led him to a senior trusted role in Pharaoh’s household.
Where do you think God will lead you through your experiences if you forgive others?
Ruth became a Christian at a very young age and has been passionate about Jesus ever since! After moving around a lot, London has been home for the last 6 years, including studying for her Youth work and Practical Theology degree. An extrovert, she is passionate about authentic community, organisation and young people living out their full potential in wherever God has called them to be! She joined the team in 2018 and has written the series Better Together for Rise. During the week, Ruth is an Events and office manager for St Dionis church, Parsons Green.