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.
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
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