Living with Integrity – Message 1
January 23, 2022
I. Introduction: Today, we begin a new series called Living with Integrity.
- Genesis 37:1; Psalm 105:16-23; Proverbs 10:9
A. This series is a survey of the life of Joseph, who faced mistreatment, violence, temptation and imprisonment in a hostile land—yet, he lived with integrity by faith!
- Integrity means "soundness, wholeness, completeness, of moral principle and character."
- For a Christian, integrity refers to consistency between what we say we believe and what we show; i.e., “agreement between our beliefs and our behavior.”
- Today’s message is entitled, Resentment.
- Resentment is “a feeling of anger or displeasure about someone or something unfair.”
- Anger is a reaction or automatic response to a situation; resentment requires dwelling on past unpleasant events, experiencing, being affected or controlled by them, continually.
- Theme verse: Genesis 37:3 (NLT)—Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children… [Which resulted in resentment from them.]
A.#1 - Results from favoritism. (Genesis 37:2-11. C/R: Galatians 5:26; Ephesians 4:31-32; 6:4; Hebrews 12:14-15)
- Genesis 37:2 (NLT)—This is the account of Jacob and his family. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he often tended his father’s flocks. He worked for his half brothers, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah [Rachel’s servant, sons Dan and Naphtali] and Zilpah [Leah’s servant, sons Gad and Asher]. [12 sons by four different women] But Joseph reported to his father some of the bad things his brothers were doing.
- Perhaps these actions needed to be reported—and might have been requested by his father, but it would certainly create conflict among these brothers.
- Genesis 37:3a (NLT)—Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age….
- Jacob’s advanced age, and the fact that he was the son of his favorite wife Rachel, may have motivated the favoritism, the indulgence, he showed openly toward Joseph.
- Genesis 37:3b-4 (NLT)— 3b So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. 4But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. [And they knew it!] They couldn’t say a kind word to him.
- This beautifully decorated long robe with long sleeves (KJV: coat of many colors) revealed that Jacob did not intend for his favorite to tend sheep like his brothers, who wore short, plain, sleeveless tunics.
- The robe likely symbolized that Jacob was treating Joseph as his firstborn son (through he was 11th), which meant he would receive a double portion of his father’s inheritance and be regarded as the manager, the overseer, of the other sons (instead of working for them).
- It is obvious that Jacob’s poor parenting created conflict among his children.
- If children believe they are treated unfairly, compared unfavorably, anger arises, leads to envy, and results in resentment as negative experiences are remembered and rehearsed.
- Joseph wasn’t completely innocent, he contributed to his brother’s hostility toward him.
- Genesis 37:5-8 (NLT)— 5One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. 6“Listen to this dream,” he said. 7“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!”
8His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. [Why tell them? Naïve or arrogant?]
- Genesis 37:9-11 (NLT)— 9Soon Joseph had another dream, and again he told his brothers about it. “Listen, I have had another dream,” he said. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!” [How foolish! He knew how they felt.]
10This time he told the dream to his father as well as to his brothers, but his father scolded him. “What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?” 11But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father wondered what the dreams meant. [Jacob had received dreams from God; Genesis 28:12-17; 31:1-13.]
- These dreams were from God, but should he have announced them? Was he trying to impress them? Was he trying to demean them?
- Had he become so self-centered from his father’s indulgence that he didn’t even consider how his brothers—and even his father—would feel about these dreams?
- Integrity in family life requires valuing each person as made in the image of God, showing sensitivity and awareness to each one’s unique importance, regardless of superficial differences in talent, beauty, athletic ability or intelligence!
- APP.: Do you make sure that every person in your family feels significant?
B. #2 - Rationalizes mistreatment. (Genesis 37:12-28. C/R: Romans 12:21; Ephesians 4:26–27; James 3:16; 4:1-2)
- Genesis 37:12-14 (NLT)—12Soon after this, Joseph’s brothers went to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem.…
14“Go and see how your brothers and the flocks are getting along,” Jacob said. “Then come back and bring me a report.” So Jacob sent him on his way, and Joseph traveled to Shechem from their home in the valley of Hebron.… [50 miles away]
- Genesis 37:18-20 (NLT)—18When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. 19“Here comes the dreamer!” they said. 20“Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”
- The brother’s hatred is evident: upon seeing him far from home; they planned to kill him!
- Genesis 37:21-22 (NLT)—21But when Reuben [the firstborn son Joseph was replacing] heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. 22“Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” [Would that lessen their guilt?] Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.
- Was Reuben a man of character, integrity? No, or he would have confronted his brothers.
- Genesis 37:23-27 (NLT)—23So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. [Why did he wear it?] 24Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. [Genesis 42:21 says Joseph pleaded for his life.] 25Then, just as they were sitting down to eat [perhaps with Joseph crying for mercy], they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.
26Judah [4th oldest, son of Leah] said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. 27Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. [“Let’s don’t kill him; let’s sell him, to be rid of him forever!”]
- They could consider themselves merciful for not killing Joseph and benefit financially.
- Resentment allows you to rationalize, to justify, mistreatment, cruelty, even murder, of someone you are convinced is causing your pain, who has become your enemy!
- When you entertain anger toward someone for a long time, turning the person’s offense over and over in your mind, talking about it with others (as these brothers did) you lose your objectivity, and come to see your offender as deserving of terrible treatment.
- The brothers likely spent much time speaking of their hatred for Joseph, bragging about what they would do if given the chance, through likely none of them would have done it individually. (Mob mentality, common hatred of a perceived enemy creates unity.)
- Be wary of current cultural divisions (party, race, economic class, vaccination status) that desensitize you toward people you view as different, allowing mistreatment and violence.
- They had lost all sensitivity and compassion toward their 17-year-old brother; they declared that wanted to kill him for making them feel inferior. (But did they really?)
- Genesis 37:28 (NLT)—So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt. [How did the brothers feel? Relieved?]
- APP.: Have you labeled someone as different from you and worthy of mistreatment?
C. #3. Resorts to deceit. (Genesis 37:29-36. C/R: Proverbs 6:16-19; Jeremiah 17:9; James 3:14-15; 1 Peter 2:1)
- Genesis 37: 29-30 (NLT)—29Some time later, Reuben returned to get Joseph out of the cistern. When he discovered that Joseph was missing, he tore his clothes in grief. 30Then he went back to his brothers and lamented, “The boy is gone! What will I do now?”
- As firstborn, he had the responsibility to lead, to confront their cruelty, but he didn’t! (Was he trying to fit in? Did he lack the character and courage (integrity) to lead?)
- Reuben’s character is evident by what he did next: he conspired with his brothers to cover their sin by deceiving their father, which reveals their resentment toward him.
- Resentment is self-centered; it only wants to protect personal interests and feelings.
- Genesis 37:31-32 (NLT)—31Then the brothers killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood. 32They sent the beautiful robe to their father with this message: “Look at what we found. Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?”
- As part of their deception, they sent someone else to deliver the blood-stained robe, creating the impression that a stranger found it.
- Genesis 37:33-35 (NLT)—33Their father recognized it immediately. “Yes,” he said, “it is my son’s robe. A wild animal must have eaten him. Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!” 34Then Jacob tore his clothes and dressed himself in burlap. He mourned deeply for his son for a long time. 35His family all tried to comfort him [pretense, deceit, hypocrisy, since they caused pain], but he refused to be comforted. “I will go to my grave [she’ol, place of the dead] mourning for my son,” he would say, and then he would weep.
- Had they become so hardened to sin that they felt no guilt, no compassion, for the grief of their father? (1Timothy 4:2: people’s consciences are dead. NIV: seared with a hot iron.)
- The brother’s resentment motivated cruel deceit toward their brother and father.
- Genesis 37:36 (NLT)—Meanwhile, the Midianite traders arrived in Egypt, where they sold Joseph to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Potiphar was captain of the palace guard.
- APP.: Do you need to rid yourself of resentment? It is always self-destructive.
- Colossians 3:13 (NLT)—Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. [memory]
- That’s integrity! It’s how you become whole, complete in Christ!