Have you ever imagined what would happen if you won the lottery? My wife and I like to joke, “you know, one day, when we win the lottery that we never play, we’ll buy that _____,” or go on that trip, or whatever. It’s fun to imagine what you would do if you had practically unlimited resources.
But, usually in our imaginations, we leave out the dirty, sinful, human side of things. We neglect the reality that former friends and distant relatives would be constantly calling and begging for handouts, that taxes would take a huge chunk of our winnings, and that more will always be expected of us because we are rich.
The simple reality is that winning the lottery will not answer all of our problems: it will multiply the temptations of our sinful nature. That’s why Time magazine ran an article in 2016 titled, “Here’s how winning the lottery makes you miserable.” In that article, Time listed the accounts of several past lottery winners who became utterly miserable from the temptations of wealth. Many of them committed suicide, some were murdered, and others simply went broke within a few years of winning their millions.
Winning the lottery will not answer all of your problems: it will multiply the temptations of our sinful nature. Perhaps that’s what Joseph was warning his brothers about in today’s Scripture passage.
Please read Genesis 45:16-24.
After Pharaoh declares that Joseph’s brothers will be given more than they ever could have dreamed of, and they are sent to retrieve their father so that he may share in the blessing, Joseph warns his brothers not to quarrel along the way. Why does Joseph need to give them this warning? Because of their sinful nature.
From childhood, Joseph’s brothers have been jealous. In their jealousy, they mocked Joseph, tormented him, ridiculed him, and eventually escalated to selling him into slavery while contemplating murdering him. Over the years, these brothers have matured and recently, they have passed Joseph’s tests by not getting jealous when Benjamin received special treatment. But now they face a far greater test: massive wealth.
Money can be a great temptation for so many people. Money itself is not evil—many people use their money for great goods like supporting missionaries, providing food and clothing for the poor, providing for their family, and funding orphanages, hospitals, churches, and other charities. But money brings with it the temptation to be self-reliant, discontent, greedy, selfish, and idolatrous. And when you fall in love with money, it will lead you to horrible evils.
It was the love of money that kept the rich young ruler from trusting in Jesus. It was the love of money that tempted Judas to betray Jesus. It was the love of money that makes it harder for the rich many to enter into heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Timothy 6:10a).
Joseph knew that money could lead his brothers back into their sinful jealousy, so he warned them not to quarrel--not to let their newfound fortune come between their fraternal unity. The love of money can lead us all into similar evils. Rather than daydream about winning the lottery, let’s be content with what we have, and use it for the glory of God.