As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,
to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
(Genesis 50:20 ESV)
The biblical story of Joseph and his brothers from Genesis 50 is well-known. The story is often rightly referred to for helping people get through difficult times, especially, verse 20. This verse shows how God can take evil in someone’s life and use it for good.
Joseph’s story offers a lot of hope for believer’s, but Joseph had a special place in God’s redemptive plan. God set Joseph up as a redeemer. Yet, so often we identify ourselves with Joseph. As I think about Joseph and his brothers and the application for Christians today, I am compelled to ask, “Why do we so quickly identify with Joseph instead of his brothers?”
I ask the question based on the actions of Joseph’s brothers and reflection on my own sin and temptation and that of people I’ve lead over the years.
Throughout Joseph’s trials, of which he was a victim, he was fearful of and faithful to God. Joseph was placed in difficult situations through no fault of his own. His sin did not put him into slavery and all that followed. Yet, he persevered as part of God’s plan not knowing the great outcome that awaited.
Joseph’s brothers, on the other hand, acted out of their sinfulness. The brothers were jealous of him – they hated him. After sinning against Joseph by selling him into slavery, the brothers had to sin again by lying to their father to cover-up what they had done.
While only you can truly answer about your sins and trials, my guess is that most of us find ourselves as victims of our own sins rather than someone else’s. Maybe not 100% of the time, but most of the time. Most of the time we are not like Joseph who was faithful through the storms. Rather, we are like his brothers who plot and scheme through our sin to work things out for what we see as our immediate benefit.
Joseph was a type of Christ who saved his brothers. Most of the time I feel like a type of Joseph’s brothers dealing with my own sinfulness though God may use me to lead others to him. Thankfully, Jesus Christ saves all who believe regardless of whether we are more like Joseph or his brothers.
Grace and peace,
p.s. Do you most identify with Joseph or his brothers?