Playing Favorites

Psalm 105:1-6,16-22, 45b
Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

To get a more clear and complete picture of some of the dynamics of today’s Scriptural readings, I feel a little reading is required: “This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his stept-brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate[a] robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him…”
Sadly, and regrettably there are at times events that seemingly occur on an on-going basis in our young and formative years that remain with us as we advance through life, always there to hurt us. It acts like an emotional land mine, that we or others unknowingly step on un-intentionally, and the un-addressed, un-healed hurt, and rejection from our youth is present and again hurting us.

I’ve witnessed both spectrums of the birthing order in families those born and growing up had older brothers and sisters that were adults, as well those persons who were the proverbial “PFB’s” Precious First Born. And should the PFB, be a son that somehow bestowed a specialist standing to that child.
Surprising to me is that researchers claim today more than 70% of parents admit to having one favorite child. Saying such means or lessens the fact that all of us wants to know, feel and be assured we’re loved…

To do less, to one’s children making them a “NCS” Neglected Subsequent Children, where you feel less loved, it strikes one’s sense of wholeness, worthiness creating feelings of “Am I not worth being loved.” So sadly, not surprisingly we find and encounter favoritism in the Bible, in both the negative as well as the positive manner.
Afterall God loves us all greatly and equally, in Acts 10: 34-35, we read of Peter’s understanding when he declares
“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who revers G-D and does what is right both in the sight and presence of God.” The apostle Paul wrote it this way for the Galatians saying;
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

Yet in contrasting and conflictual manner we now read of a continuing generational strife of a family exercising favoritism. Abraham who was found favorable by God chose Isaac(sometimes called the child of the promise) over his first and eldest son Ismael. His son Isaac choosers Esau, over his twin brother Jacob.
And today we read of Jacob favoring his youngest son Joseph over his other sons, so much so he has an ornate multi-colored long sleeve jacket made for him, as well as treating him favorable openly in front of his other sons.

Let us quickly re-visit the opening details of this family drama mess, and remember un-like television programs and movies, all messes are not neatly resolved by the end of this sermon message. We just start to get an understanding of what is unfolding and possible why!

“Joseph, a young man of seventeen…tending the flocks with his step-brothers… and he brought their father a bad report about them.” Young Joseph was a tattle-tale, as the younger generation says, he was a snitch. Let continue to see why the older brothers had some reasons to dislike their much younger sibling.

“ 3 Now Israel/Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate[a] robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”

For whatever good it dos, Jacob was doing and showing his favoritism of Joseph out in the open, not hiding it all, can you understand or imagine the pain, hurt and rejection the brothers must have been enduring, asking and wondering hay they can’t be loved the same, or they not worth the same or equal love of their father also?
It is a hurtful thing to in the same family, yet not have the same love, devotion and affirmation shed on you that another receives just for existing. And to add hurt to the harm, Joseph has dreams he starts to share with the family, dreams of his works and efforts rising above theirs, to the point he shares with their father that he like his brothers will one day bow down before him. Joseph is adding fuel accelerant to the fire of dislike bordering on hatred his brothers have both for and towards him.

With all this drama going on it should be understandable that every opportunity not to be or have Joseph around his brothers take it, not being exactly where they tell him, so as to hope we want continue to see/check on what they’re doing then quickly return to their father with negative reports.
It is doubly hard to love someone who, for whatever reason has a better and seemingly more blessed life than yours, and then rubs your face in the messiness of your life all the while in your face sharing their lavish event and dreams of even more future blessings.

I am not one to say if you find yourself in a less than position, situation or condition just accept it, that is your continual station in life. Far from such, I say plan, prepare work and dedicate yourself to acquire something better, to make a life you dream and envision a reality.
It will be hard, it will take genuine effort, dedication and sacrifice but it is more than possible. Don’t get side-tracked by focusing and comparing your life with that of others whom you think, feel or know your given, or bestowed favorable opportunities.

God didn’t bring you this far to leave you. “Greater is that which is within you than that which is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) It’s not about what comes into your life that bad, it’s about what in your heart, what’s in your spirit, what kind of spirit do you have, are you after the heart of God, or the affirmation of Satan, of sin, hurt and wrong doing?
Jesus spoke about this situation thusly, saying: “…the things that come out a person’s mouth come from their heart, and these things defile them. For out of the heart comes evil thoughts-murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person…” (Matthew 15:18-20)

So when someone is playing favorites, and you’re not it, don’t let it destroy you. Also don’t be self-destructive either, because thing or others are not being right to you or in your life, don’t join them in self-destructive, self-sabotaging thoughts and actions, but be more than a conqueror, as the apostle Paul spoke of when encountering opposition.
Sin begins in the human heart and if unchecked works its way out in our thoughts, words and actions. It takes quick, disciplined heart and spirit to deal with it, and root it out. If you let it go, it gets the upper hand, resulting in destruction and harm.

Do that which is right, do that which is acceptable always in the sight and presence of God.

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

In closing, When someone is playing favorites and you’re not it, you’re not their favorite know that you are God’s favorite, and God is still in the blessing business.