Genesis 37: 5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
Jacob loved Joseph more than he loved any other of his sons. He created a family environment of jealousy within the family, as Joseph’s brother’s watched Jacob display this favoritism without apology. First, Jacob favored Joseph with the coat of many colors. The coat represented the father’s particular blessing and meant that Joseph would never have to do hard labor reserved for his brother’s only. Second, the older brother’s had to listen to Joseph tell of his divine dreams that sounded very much like predictions that, included all his older brothers one day serving him.
Over time, Jacob’s favoritism and Joseph’s giftedness began to rub his brother’s the wrong way. Tolerance for Joseph evolved into resentment and hate, jealousies boiled into hate, and hate into a greater sin and murderous plot to kill their younger brother. These brothers’s felt if they killed him, they would be forever rid of the spoiled dreamer. Have you experienced jealousy in your family, friendships, and relationships?
Jealousy is an attitude. In God’s eyes, jealousy is a sinful attitude. Jealousy’s greatest evil is in what it can lead to. Because jealousy, like anger and hate, can lead to worse sins such as murder, Jesus instructed us that such sins were equally deserving of the same judgment (Matthew 5:21-23). According to the scriptures God punishes a jealous heart. Because God chose to speak through Moses, Miriam became jealous of her brother. God was displeased with Miriam over this and struck her with leprosy (Numbers 12:1-10). For jealousy, Cain killed his brother Abel, and King Saul tried to murder David (I Sam 18 through 26).
Today’s world offers us many luxuries, opportunities for success, and fertile fields for envy and jealousy to take root. While we cannot and should not seek to eliminate our natural desire for success and blessings and opportunities God has given us in this world. It is imperative we make sure that such desires do not sprout into jealousy towards others. The lessons we learn from jealousy’s destructive effects are paramount to our future with God, family, friendships, and our relationships. Do you have traces of jealousy that need to be healed? Have you been affected by jealousy and need Godly perspective? The story of Joseph’s family can be a powerful beginning for your life (Genesis 36-50).