Today, we will read about the dreams that God gives to Joseph, and Joseph's immediate response to those dreams--bragging about them to his family.
God has called believers today to speak the truth in love. Like Joseph, God has given us information that we need to share with others. But there is a way to do this, and a way not to do this. Joseph shows us the truth of the proverb, “whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10:19b).
Please read Genesis 37:5-11.
These two dreams have a similar interpretation, which Joseph’s family immediately understand: they will bow down before Joseph. Of course, the faithful Bible reader remembers that these dreams will come true at the end of the book, when Joseph has all the power in Egypt and his brothers come to him seeking relief from a famine. Even his father and mother eventually come seeking Joseph’s aide.
Yet, even though this prophetic dream will come true, it is not necessarily wise for Joseph to share it with his family. As the narrative records, his brothers are already jealous of him—verse 4 says “they hated him” and couldn’t even talk to him without getting angry. It probably wasn’t a good idea to go up to them and say, “you know, God has told me that you will one day bow down to me.”
In speaking the truth, Joseph comes across as arrogant and boastful, and he causes his brothers to hate him even more, both “for his dreams and for his words.”
Did you catch that? They hated Joseph for two reasons: 1. What he was saying was true, and 2. Because he said it in the way he did.
As Christians, we are blessed with the truth of God, and we are called to bring this truth to a dark and dying world. But Jesus has warned us that the world will hate us for following Him. We must not do anything that will exacerbate their hate. We must not speak in such a way that both delivers the truth and alienates our neighbor. There is a way to speak the truth in love, but it requires wisdom. We need to ask God for this wisdom so that we can share the truth with our neighbor AND share our love for them at the same time.
Is it true that all sinners are going to spend an eternity being tortured in hell for their sins? Yes. Is it true that our neighbor deserves to be punished because he is a dirty rotten sinner? Yes. Is there a way to share this with our neighbor without making him hate us? Yes.
One wise evangelist once gave me this advice: “The gospel is offensive to the sinner, but you don’t have to be offensive. Before you share the gospel, brush your teeth and put on deodorant and some decent clothes. Then go and be polite and loving as you share the truth with the lost.”
Is there a way that Joseph could have shared this truth with his brothers and not made them hate him more? Yes, and he clearly didn’t do it. Maybe it was a matter of timing. Maybe it was a matter of tone. Maybe it was a matter of attitude. Maybe it was just a matter of lacking wisdom. After all, it takes wisdom for us to speak the truth in love.
If you are lacking that wisdom, ask God to give it to you today so that you may be a faithful witness for Him.
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