Living in the Spirit
August 4, 2014
Scripture Reading: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan. This is the story of the family of Jacob.
Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves.* But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him. — Genesis 37:1-4
Thou shalt not tattle is one of the most sacred of childhood’s codes. Chronic tattle tellers are shunned and sometimes banned from the play group. I suppose the same could be said for what we adults call whistleblowers. Usually associated with the work place, both private sector and governmental, these are the people who report what they perceive to be less than acceptable work, or lack thereof, occurring on the job. Part of the problem is discerning whether the tattler or whistleblower is truly concerned about what has transpired or if they are trying to raise their own status at the expense of others. My hunch with Joseph is that his motivation was a little of both. As one of the younger brother, he was already envisioning himself as an equal to his father and thus saw the need for work to be productive. He had visions of ruling his brothers. At seventeen and younger, he did not have the good sense to not flaunt his superior talents and skills. He soon got a lesson in humility in an empty cistern.
If nothing else the story of Joseph is a story of redemption. We could all take sides as to who was right and who was wrong in this situation. Rueben obviously knew what the brothers were doing was wrong. He even tried to intervene but failed. How many times have we wished we had stopped something or started something and did not? And when the dust has settled, how often would things had been better if we had implemented our wishes?
I personally have prayed many times, “God guard my tongue”. Those are usually times when what I wanted to say was more a shot back at something rather than addressing a problem. Shots back usually cause more problems, I have discovered. However, as far as regrets go, I have had deeper senses of failure when I have not spoken. It takes courage to tattle or to whistle blow when one’s motivation is spot on right and one knows it to the depths of that still small voice of God whispering in his or her ear. I still need to pray for God to guard my tongue. I also need to pray for God to loosen it when it is God’s will that I speak.
Prayer: Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3) but help me also remember when you said if these were silent, the stones would shout out. (Luke 19:40) Give me the courage to speak out in your service. (Luke 19:40) Amen.
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.