Posts Tagged ‘Jealousy’

Joseph © Image by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 37:1-13 – DIARY OF A DYSFUNCTIONAL FATHER – Part 2 

I imagine that this is the extended diary Jacob kept about the story of his son, Joseph, extrapolated from the Biblical narrative. 

Jacob: I love who Joseph is becoming. He has already grown to be a young man of bearing, wise in his decisions and honest, often blatantly honest. I can’t say that this has come from me.  

Needless to say, I have chosen this firstborn son of Rachel to lead the family business. I know that Rachel would have been proud of him. I can honour her memory in this way. He is the child Rachel and I longed for and had almost given up hoping for. He has her eyes, her poise but most of all, he honours God. 

O Lord, how I miss Rachel. I loved her so much. Leah and my other wives may not be pleased with Joseph leading the family business, but their sons are wild and undisciplined. They love me, but I fear they do not respect me.  

I know I have not been the best of Fathers. They can see how I showed very little fatherly love and protection for Dinah, my daughter. I have not held them accountable for their violence in Shechem so I can hardly reward them by giving them leadership positions. I can tell that they do not like the way I treat Joseph and resent his natural talents and his trust in God.  

Surely, I can give the first-born rights to any son I want.  Perhaps they think I am showing too much love and protection for Joseph. Joseph keeps an eye on everything that is happening with my flocks, servants and property and he reports back to me about anything that is not going well. His intuitive ability for business has made him invaluable, but his brothers think he is spying on them. They are feeding the flocks in pastures much farther away to avoid interaction with Joseph. 

Joseph says his brothers hate him. I’m sure this is an exaggeration. Hate is a strong emotion for brothers to feel. But today they refused to even greet him with the traditional greeting of blessing, “Shalom”.  

I must speak to my sons about how they are treating Joseph. Not greeting a person is not only discourteous, but it is also a sign of hostility, not only a proof that they do not wish him well, but they give the impression that if they have an opportunity, they will do him an injury. I will not tolerate such lack of good manners and implied malice to the one who will eventually take over the family business. 

I could not attend the morning meeting today, so I gave Joseph the responsibility to hand out the tasks for the day, mainly binding the corn in sheaves. I gave him a gift, the coat of many colours, the coat that signifies leadership and distinction, to make it clear that he was in charge.  

His brothers gave him a hard time. Reuben came to complain later and told me that Joseph shared a dream. Apparently Joseph had said,   

“Listen to this dream, we were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!”  

His brothers responded badly to this dream, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?”  

I was a little embarrassed by this dream. Was he trying to assert his leadership ambitions? Was this dream from God? To soften the blatant message of the dream a little, the next day, I spoke to my sons of my intentions to give the firstborn rights to Joseph but that it would not happen until I died. In the meantime, he would be learning the ropes. I could tell that Joseph’s dream and my announcement did not go down all that well. 

To make things worse, Joseph blurted out another dream. I suppose he thought he was helping. He said, 

 “Listen, I have had another dreamThe sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!”  

I could see his brothers were jealous of Joseph, so I scolded him this time. “What kind of dream is that?” I said, “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?”  

His brothers were grateful for my words, but I have wondered since what these dreams mean. Strange that the dream should be about sheaves which speak of God’s promise of provision and stars when God has promised that my family will one day be numerous like the stars of heaven.  

I don’t want Joseph to think of himself more highly than he should think. It is only by grace that God gives leadership. I want him to think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of gifting and faith to each one. 

I am a bit concerned. My 11 other sons told me they would be pasturing the flocks on our land near Shechem. This doesn’t seem to be a good idea, given that our family is not well-liked in that area. They have been gone sometime now and I am sending Joseph to see how things are going and he can come back with a report. No doubt time away from him has mended their jealousy of him.  

TO BE CONTINUED 

Pastor Ross 

Advertisements

Genesis 31:1-13 – LEARNING FROM A TOXIC WORKPLACE 

Toxic Workplace by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Morguefiles.org

Toxic Workplace by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Morguefiles.org

He has been bullied into working for them for many years. Now he overhears his co-workers making derisive comments about him in a private conversation. Jealous of his success, the boss’ sons accuse him of prospering at their expense. They attack his character. Even though they don’t work directly with him it seems his reputation has been tarnished (Genesis 31:1,2).

Their loss is not the forfeiture of wealth but of relationship with Jacob. He is, afterall, a gifted businessman who has worked hard in the company for many years. They grumble about him, ostracize him and criticize him rather than embrace him and what he has to offer.

I can learn much from Laban’s sons and Jacob’s toxic workplace. If jealousy is allowed it’s way, it will fester and rule over my life. It will mislead my motives and prejudice my perspectives. The murmurings of malice will begin to spill venom into my speech.

The noxious taste of envy has already soured in Jacob’s mouth. Deceptive half-truths and distortions have shadowed his family history. Lies and malicious rumours now dog his own steps and bite at his heels, stripping away pieces of his reputation.

“Am I willing to be bullied by the limiting attitudes of others?”

Laban & Sons is a toxic workplace. If we reverse the curse of their poisonous bullying we can find some positive principles for a healthy workplace environment. If only Laban and his sons would…

  1. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS (instead of play the Blame Game)

The company hasn’t made a profit this year and Jacob becomes an object of false blame, a scapegoat. Surely a healthy workplace culture depends on a boss who takes responsibility and encourages his workers to succeed in their endeavours.

  1. ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION (not Workplace Inflexibility and Oppression)

“Are the results of my changes welcomed or does the boss think that I am trying to take over?” A healthy workplace encourages creativity and innovation.

  1. BE INCLUSIVE AND BUILD HEALTHY WORK RELATIONSHIPS (instead of playing Power Politics and Bullying) 

“There are unwritten laws and expectations. Workplace politics! All you have to do is tow-the-line and not challenge the status quo; do things my way; make me look good; stop trying to get any credit; stay within the limits I set; submit to my demands no matter how unreasonable they may be.”

“Am I willing to challenge those who legislate rules in favour of their autocratic leadership style and bigotry?”

It is often the few, like Laban and his sons, who have the loudest voices and they market their ideas in the cauldrons of power in order to coerce others to become a puppet of their political correctness. Jacob could well ask,

“Am I destined to ape the morality of those I admire the least?”

Building healthy working relationships without autocratic power-mongering and bullying, is the sign of a healthy workplace environment. 

  1. INSPIRE SUCCESS (not being Threatened by it)

“Does my workplace culture remain fluid and open to new ideas, inspiring success rather than being domineering and repressive?”

In educational institutions as well as political arenas, workplaces as well as neighbourhoods, there are authoritarian, arrogant, narcissistic personalities, who feel a strong need to control or dominate, and who use bullying as a tool to conceal their shame and boost their self-esteem, demeaning others in order to feel empowered; the Laban & Sons of our world. We can choose to refuse a bullying culture.

Finding purpose and fulfilment in life will involve overcoming the obstacles, the barriers, brick walls, roadblocks and hurdles ahead. If I am to seek the direction and the courage I need to move forward in my life, I will find myself disentangling myself from toxic environments and toxic people.

Jacob has faith in the promises of God for his life, but having purpose and privilege in being involved in that which has eternal value does not make it easier for him to find the courage he needs to face his detractors; those who dislike him; critics or cynics; and those who say disparaging things about his faith and play the bully in the name of tolerance. 

Jacob is no innocent, perfect man. He’s under pressure, and obedience to God will often involve going against the flow. He is learning not be bullied by the restrictive attitudes of others. Once, he had his manipulating mother to push him past his problems using deception, but now he will find other allies and a different courage inspired by faith instead of fear. The invitation he gives us is that of pursuing your God-given destiny.

It’s time to become a returnee and brave the journey to the land of promise. But will he be prepared to lose his job to pursue his destiny? What about you? 

Pastor Ross

Jealousy Is A Terrible Counselor - Image created by Ross Cochrane

Jealousy Is A Terrible Counselor – Image created by Ross Cochrane

 

 

 

 

 

JEALOUSY

by Ross Cochrane

Envy sees a world of better things
She vies against a sister with protracted claws
And leaves her grieving, graceless, loveless, insecure.
Self flaying tail of pain, flings it’s stings.
Hateful, harmful hooks take hold and cling. Her jaws
Will maul trust and make truth a prisoner.

Poor in counsel, jealousy lays blame,
Inciting Cain to kill, closing heavens doors,
Her sick soul still seeks a shameful cure.
Yet victory for her will still remain
Unsure.

Genesis 30:1-2 – JEALOUSY IS A TERRIBLE COUNSELOR

Jealousy Is A Terrible Counselor - Image created by Ross Cochrane

Jealousy Is A Terrible Counselor – Image created by Ross Cochrane

Envy © by Ross Cochrane

Envy sees a world of better things
She vies against a sister with protracted claws
And leaves her grieving, graceless, loveless, insecure.
Self flaying tail of pain, flings it’s stings.
Hateful, harmful hooks take hold and cling. Her jaws
Will maul trust and make truth a prisoner.

Poor in counsel, jealousy lays blame,
Inciting Cain to kill, closing heavens doors,
Her sick soul still seeks a shameful cure.
Yet victory for her will still remain
Unsure.

Jealousy is a terrible counselor. She leaves you feeling isolated, insecure and grieving over your loss. You are incited to inflict damage on those you love. Jealousy turns you against Trust; a gracious and truthful friend who helps you understand your attitudes. Trust helps you to see your blessings and celebrate the success of others and helps you believe for the best. She is the mother of Patience.

 

Is she planning to commit suicide or is she simply expressing that her sole motivation in life is to have children? Rachel sees her sister and pleads with Jacob, “Give me children or I’ll die” (Genesis 30:1). She doesn’t plead with God and so far there is no mention that Rachel places any trust in the promises God has made to her husband. Is God providing her an opportunity to trust Him by keeping her childless?

Jacob has grown up in a competitive environment with his brother Esau, so he understands the dynamic of sibling rivalry. Now, through his bigamy, he creates an even greater environment for competition between his wives. Jealousy turns up because she is invited and Jacob acts as if she is an unexpected gate-crasher. Jealousy whispers lies about Leah and introduces Rachel to Blame. Jealousy and Blame test Jacob’s conflict management skills to the max.

Proverbs 14:30 (NLT) says “… jealousy is like cancer in the bones.” Proverbs 27:4 (NLT) says “Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous.” 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NLT) says “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud.” Far from being happy and proud for her sister and the blessing of children, she creates a catfight. Rachel’s motive for intimacy with Jacob is not intended to develop her love for him, but to feed her jealous battle with her sister.

Jealousy and Rage have an infamous history. Jealousy incited Cain to kill his brother Abel in Genesis 4. Jealousy embittered Sarai against her servant Hagar (Genesis 16) so much so that she sent her into the wilderness to die with her child. Jealousy encouraged Lot to move away from Abraham (Genesis 26) choosing the plains of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot almost lost his life. Jealousy fed king Saul’s obsessions and insecurity against David. He tried to kill David (1 Samuel 18). Jealousy builds a gallows for Haman who attempts to use it to murder Mordecai (Esther 5:13). Government officials swayed by Jealousy throw Daniel into the lion’s den (Daniel 6). Jewish leaders provoked by Jealousy (Acts 13 and 17) force Paul to leave town. The religious leaders prejudiced by Jealousy’s deceit crucify Jesus (Matthew 27:18). Jesus is well acquainted with Jealousy’s snares. Jealousy and Rage have an unpleasant association with Death rather than new life.

Rachel listens to the whispers of Jealousy. She wants the status of motherhood and Jealousy has told her that it is a stigma to have no children. Jealousy has made her more concerned with what others think of her than what God thinks of her. If Hannah, who lived many years hence, could have counselled Rachel perhaps the outcome may have been different (1 Samuel 1:11), but instead, a family of children, born in the midst of Jealousy and tension, grow up with distorted values? One day Jacob’s sons, intoxicated with Jealousy’s wine, will sell their brother Joseph into slavery. Jacob’s bigamous relationship was destined for such grief.

“Then Jacob becomes furious with Rachel. “Am I God?” he asks. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!” (Genesis 30:2 NLT).  

This is their first recorded fight and Jacob is furious with Rachel, as if his fury can quench Jealousy’s influence. “Am I God?” he shouts. At least he realises his limitations. He realises that children are a gift from God. Does he also realise that God has deliberately withheld children from Rachel (Genesis 29:31)? He implies as much. “He’s the one who has kept you from having children!” acknowledging God’s part in all this. Is he implying that God is judging her? Is it just that he wants to blame God when backed into a corner like so many people do?

Perhaps Jacob is seeking to bring Rachel abruptly to her senses, making her aware that God gives life and that she should stop associating with Jealousy and take counsel from Him. Is he furious because the wife he supposedly loves does not have faith in God? Not that he should talk. He doesn’t pray either, so is his faith also waning? Since Rachel has succumbed to Jealousy’s irrationality, a lecture on theology isn’t going to help. If only both of them got down on their knees and prayed, it might help quell Jealousy’s fire and assuage Jacob’s Rage.

The invitation that God gives to me is to take counsel from Trust, to make choices of life rather than death, to allow the Cross to deal with Rage and Jealousy. Lord, bring Your perspective to my attitudes. Trust invites me to see my blessings and celebrate the success of others. Trust helps me believe for the best and develop patience. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 26:12-25 – FOREIGNERS GO HOME!

Foreigners Go Home!

He is not afraid to let others excel to the point where they are better than he is. He is not THREATENED by others rising to the top. I like that about Pastor Brian Houston. How can I expect to grow if I am not willing to encourage others to reach their full potential in life and be all that God intends for them to be?

The trouble is when I begin to focus my attention on great preachers all of a sudden my ability to make a difference seems so small in comparison. They have such incredible impact in people’s lives all around the world. I can choose to either praise God for their influence or get JEALOUS, CRITICAL and INTIMIDATED BY THEM. When Isaac begins to prosper, he gets up close and personal with the destructive consequences of jealousy.

On reflection Isaac didn’t exactly get things right along the way when it came to his relationships. He uses his wife as a shield to protect himself without considering what this would do to her. He is rebuked by the Philistine leader, Abimelech, and regarded with suspicion from then on. It’s like getting the Mayor of the city offside.

All this probably contributes to the REJECTION AND JEALOUSY of Isaac by the local residents in Gerar, especially when God starts to prosper him. You can almost hear them say Not only is he a liar but these foreigners are stealing our jobs and livelihood!” You know how the conversations go when overseas investors take over iconic homegrown businesses.

Not having a belief in God and therefore not having an appreciation of God’s blessing in another persons life, the Philistines express their PROVINCIALISM and JEALOUSY by vandalising Isaacs property. They fill Isaacs wells with dirt, leaving him without a water supply (Genesis 26:14-15).

This is the Bible’s first act of VANDALISM. I’m sure there was graffiti saying “FOREIGNERS GO HOME!” Obviously the locals in Gerar were threatened and intolerant of strangers. Without water Isaac is forced to move (Genesis 26:18-22).

What makes it worse is that these vandalised wells had been in the family for years, built by his father Abraham. If it was me, I’d feel a little angry. Filling in a well with dirt was equivalent to an ACT OF WAR, a crime, an act of terrorism. Isaac had enough men to take these guys down. RETALIATE! REVENGE! GET EVEN! Perhaps Isaac is too much of a WIMP to try this. He doesn’t do anything but dodge the blows. Some suggest that he is just a PEACEFUL man. Whatever.

Isaac takes the easy way out. He moves from Gerar to Beersheba, singing the “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers. “… You got to know when to turn away, know when to run.” His relationship problems with his neighbours are reflected in the names he gives to the wells he dug. Esek – “argument”, Sitnah – “hostility”. He’s not having a good day by the time he gets to the end of Genesis 26. Ever feel like this? Alienated? Rejected? Excluded?

JEALOUSY and prejudice is a terrible thing. It’s like a splinter that irritates you and becomes infected. It also separates you in terms of your relationships. It seems that even Abimelech is jealous and intimidated by Isaacs wealth and power. And since a leader sets the culture, he orders Isaac to leave the country. “Go somewhere else,” he said, “for you have become too powerful for us.” (Genesis 26:16 NLT). “FOREIGNERS, GO HOME!” God promised this land to Isaac and his descendents but now he finds that he is a foreigner in his own land.

Jesus had the same thing happen to Him. John 1:10-12 (NLT) says “He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they REJECTED Him. But to all who believed Him and ACCEPTED Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”

God always has a way of turning CURSING TO BLESSING and Isaac keeps moving until God opens the way for him. It takes a while but I know that as I trust in God He dispels my fears and reaffirms His desire to bless me and impact future generations. He brings me to the place where, like Isaac, I can dig wells such as REHOBOTH, which means “the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land” (Genesis 26:22). That’s when I know that I am SUSTAINED by Him and, like Isaac, I build an altar to WORSHIP Him and spend time listening to what He has to say about my life (Genesis 26:23-25). I return to that place where I am closest to God.

Beersheba is an invitation to DRAW CLOSE TO GOD. It speaks of that place where God says to me “Be strong and courageous! …. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT). It is that place where God says “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NLT). Philippians 4:6 (NLT) echoes these words “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) says “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” It is a place where you are ACCEPTED as a child of God. You can find Him waiting for you there right now.

Pastor Ross