April 12 – When Siblings Don’t Love

I am so excited to introduce more writers for our devotions. Wendy and John Reaume were first sent out to Nigeria, West Africa from LSA. John grew up in this church and after marrying Wendy, they joined staff with Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Power to Change). John continues to teach at the African Centre for Theological Studies in Nigeria where he is also the VP of Development. Wendy is involved in planting mobile schools for the squatter communities, writing and teaching. They are both active in discipleship. They continue ministry from Canada during the pandemic with many of their classes in the wee hours of the morning during zoom, as well as locally. 

They have 8 children and 6 grandchildren.  Wendy is the founder of Grace Girls and you may know them because of their African son’s story, Cry of the Outcast—Josiah’s Story.  Their kids love visiting Lakeshore and LSA has been a big part of their lives and ministry. 

As Ontario goes into another emergency lockdown, we feel so frustrated, sometimes angry, and long for life to be more like we used to know it. Over the next week, Wendy is going to talk with us about a young man who experienced a ton of frustrations and very difficult life situations. We can identify a little bit with him – Joseph.

Joseph—When Siblings Don’t Love

The story of Joseph is full of so much joy and goodness.  But it also has its pockets of hurt, unfair happenings and to be honest, real life sibling rivalry.  All siblings fight sometimes, but this is a story of meanness, wicked planning and yes, even going that extra step of causing physical and emotional harm.  Although one brother, Reuben, adamantly disagrees, others plot Joseph’s murder.

Joseph’s half-brothers were jealous of him.  Joseph was the son of the favourite wife.  He had a coat of many colours that the others didn’t have, and God gave him dreams about how one day he would be superior to his brothers.  I’m sure there were many things Joseph did wrong, but none worthy of being murdered.  

Genesis 37:17-28

So, Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.

23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels[b] of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

There are unfortunately too many Bible stories of siblings that don’t love because of jealousy; Cain and Abel; Esau and Jacob; Joseph and his brothers.  It’s hard when there is unfair treatment or favouritism but choosing to be jealous is not the answer.  The final result of jealousy is still a lack of peace, an ungrateful heart and from that flows evil actions.

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:16

Reuben tried to make a difference.  He appealed to his brothers, and this actually saved Joseph’s life.  21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. 

But he failed to take it far enough.  It wouldn’t have been easy, but Reuben could have run home and told his father what was happening.  After learning that Joseph was sold, he could have told Jacob and sent an entourage of rescuers to go and buy him back.  But once the wheels of jealousy and the deceit that follows get in motion, it is a harder machine to stop.

Yes, God had a plan in all of this.  Yes, all of it happened within the will of God.  But God never chooses evil as a part of His plan; He simply takes what has been done and reaps some blessing from it.  

Is there someone you are jealous of?  It may be a friend, sibling, family member or co-worker.  Murder is probably not on the horizon, but the Bible is clear.  Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  

Ask God to help you overcome the root of envy by putting an action to your faith.  Buy them a coffee, compliment them, say a prayer for their well-being.  It may not be the easiest route but God’s way is always the best way.

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