A Tip or Two From Joseph

We often think of Joseph as a victim; constantly facing trouble, strife and hardship. But while my family have been studying Genesis I discovered some other lessons that we can learn from Joseph’s life. For example look at Genesis 37:1-11. Here we see a 17-year-old boy, still living at home with his family. Various aspects of his behaviour here should serve as a warning to young people today.

Firstly, it is clear that Joseph was causing problems in his family. He is an example of a typical young man; shooting his mouth off without thinking first. He was very unwise in telling his brothers about his dream. Verse 4 tells us his brothers already hated him, but Joseph foolishly and indiscreetly shared his dreams. The dreams were about how he would rule over his brothers some day. Now God had chosen to reveal this only to Joseph, but he did not need to stir up trouble by repeating it. As young people we need to learn to be discrete; knowing when to speak and when to shut up. Joseph’s brothers “hated him even more for his dreams and for his words” (v.8). 

Another way Joseph made trouble was in telling tales on his brothers. “And Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father” (v.2). While there is a time and place for talking over wrong-doings, we have to be wise. Gossiping about people’s faults is not only unhelpful, but potentially harmful. Proverbs 10:12 says that “love covers all offences”. We as young people are especially prone to telling our friends about the faults of our parents and leaders. Joseph was also proud; these dreams went to his head. This is such a danger for young people! We think “I would never struggle with that” or “I had a much better upbringing than the likes of her!”. Matthew 23:12 warns that “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled...”. This is true of Joseph; if you read the rest of his story you will see that God used rough and harsh circumstances to crush these attributes out of him. Although he did indeed end up being exalted, in Egypt, Joseph had to be humbled and broken first. So let us learn these lessons now, or God may have to teach us the hard way.

By Elspeth McLachlan

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