Monday, March 24, 2014

"Don’t Quarrel on the Way!”

By Lance Cordle
      As is so often the case, a fresh reading of scripture brings a fresh perspective and new insight on passages we have read many times. Such was true with me as I recently perused the story of Joseph and his brothers as recorded in the last few chapters of Genesis. 
      As you know, Joseph was hated  and envied by his brothers. Part of this was due to his father’s favoritism. Quite likely Joseph himself contributed to the ill will by immature actions and comments. However, the brothers themselves made the     decisions to be angry and become bitter. You are also likely aware that this bitter- ness resulted in Joseph being mistreated and ultimately sold into slavery in Egypt. However, God was using the situation for good (Genesis 50:20) and ultimately the cruel acts of sibling hatred actually resulted in the saving of the family of Jacob. 
      It was near the end of the story where my focus was drawn. Joseph had revealed himself to his brothers. There can be no doubt that the memory of the mistreatment and the effects of it on their father weighed heavily upon them (Genesis 37:32-35; 50:15). Joseph however, knew the urgency and need of having his family in Egypt before the famine became severe. So when he sent his brothers to retrieve their fa- ther and the rest of the family, he said, “Do not quarrel along the way” (Genesis 45:24, ESV). The NIV translation of this is even more brisk: “Don’t quarrel on the way!” Why would Joseph need to exhort his brothers not to quarrel or argue on the way home? Let me suggest that he knew they would be filled with regret and there was a very real possibility that they would place blame on each other. This type of behavior would likely spiral  into division and their mission would either be aborted or delayed.
      May I be candid? We live in a world where divisiveness and bitterness is far too often the norm. We would do ourselves (and those outside the body of Christ) a great service to do our part to keep our families in harmony. I inwardly cringe when I hear someone say (with knowledge and evidence) that “So and So” may be a Christian but they do not try to get along with their family. Trust me; I know  that a Christian can only do so much to live in peace (Romans 12:16, 18). However, there is absolutely NO excuse for a Christian to be the cause or the perpetuator of trouble and bitterness in a family (Hebrews 12:14). Such behavior hurts the person, the family, and ultimately the church as a whole.
      May I be even more candid? Bitterness and fighting have NO place in the local congregation either. However, in some congregations it is “how business is done.” People who claim to be Christians are envious and hold grudges against one another. As James writes, “My brethren, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:10). As a result, the world is not convinced of the need to be “one of us.”
      Our time on our journey is much too short; our mission is much too urgent; and the cost is much too high (Matthew 16:25; 18:5, 6).  Please  . . . “Don’t quarrel on the way!”

- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com

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