In his classic book, “Love and Respect,” psychologist Emerson Eggerichs uses biblical texts, research, and first-hand counseling experience to propose that men would rather be respected than any other emotion, even love. This is a key difference between men and women. In general, he proposes, a woman’s greatest need is to feel loved, while a man’s greatest need is to feel respected.
This is an issue to which every man can relate, and it is especially true between sons and their fathers. Every son wants to look up to his father with respect. And every son longs to hear their father reciprocate that respect by saying to them, “I’m proud of you.”
In today’s Scripture passage, we will see that Joseph has earned his father’s respect.
Please read Genesis 47:27-31.
As the Patriarch of the family, Jacob could have demanded respect from his sons, but he humbles himself with such deference for Joseph that he asks his son, “If now I have found favor in your sight…” This should have been a given; of course a son of the patriarch would have respect for his father! But Joseph has risen to such heights that Jacob feels compelled to ask this question.
What’s more, Jacob makes a request of Joseph that should have been reserved for Reuben. As the first-born, Reuben should have had the honor of burying his father. But Jacob shows the utmost respect for Joseph, by asking him to fulfill this last request.
What exactly is this request? Jacob wants to be buried with his fathers. He knows that the sojourning in Egypt was temporary, and he has faith that God will restore His people to the Promised Land, so that’s where he wants his bones to rest. He wants his funeral to be a testimony to his faith in God, and to God’s promise to give his children the Promised Land.
In Jacob’s mind, there is only one person who could adequately fulfill this request: his beloved son, Joseph. So he makes Joseph swear a cultural oath by placing his hand under his father’s thigh. When his son swears to obey, Jacob can finally rest.
Joseph must have swelled with pride that his father would grant him such respect. It is the deepest desire of every man’s heart. He hinted at this desire earlier when he told his brothers to make sure to tell their father all that had become of Joseph. Everything he accomplished was to be explained to his father, and the hope is that it would make his father proud.
As Christians, we too have this desire to make our Heavenly Father proud. We often are ashamed at how much we have fallen short. But He is proud of us. We often wonder why he would love us when we can’t seem to do anything right. But He is proud of us. We often think we are unworthy and useless; that He should just use someone else to serve His purposes. But He is proud of us.
Your Heavenly Father is more proud of you than Jacob was of Joseph. Because you are His child, and He loves you. He knows your limitations; He knows your shortcomings. And He loves you anyway. He sent His Son to die for you.
If He were really ashamed of you, He might just snatch you up to heaven so that you can’t cause any more humiliation. But He hasn’t done that. God wants to use you to shine His light in this dark world. Of course you will fall short—we all do! But He is still willing to use you. Your Heavenly Father looks down on your attempts to walk by faith and glorify Him, and, no matter how weak you may feel that your effort is, He is proud of you.
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