Summary: Joseph, a unique character, with many challenges in his life can teach us how our uniqueness in Christ is not to be hidden.
Setting the scene: 17 year old Joseph is the favoured son of Jacob. His favour is acknowledged in his ¡¥richly ornamented robe¡¦. He is the 2nd youngest son of Jacob¡¦s favourite wife ¡V Rachel. He has 10 older brothers who envy him, even hate him.
Joseph had been chosen by God in a dramatic way. He doesn¡¦t know that in 13 years time he will initiate a radical plan to save millions of starving people as Prime Minister of a foreign land he has never even visited.
A lot is yet to happen in his life ¡V good and bad. His life holds many lessons we would do well to learn. I want to suggest that if Joseph could speak with us today there are a number of lessons he might want to teach us. Things he learned in the 22 years between the beginning of Genesis 37 and the end of Genesis 45.
The FIRST of these is:
¡¥DON¡¦T BE ASHAMED OF YOUR UNIQUENESS¡¦
GENESIS 37:1-11 (read)
Conformity can be more comfortable than uniqueness.
Being different is not always a positive experience.
Joseph was a UNIQUE young man ¡V for a number of reasons:
„h His birth ¡V Genesis 30:22-24 ¡V To Rachel, a barren lady needing Divine help
„h His Father¡¦s love ¡V Genesis 37:3 ¡V More than his brothers
„h His Coat ¡V Genesis 37:4 ¡V Unfashionably different
„h His Gift ¡V Genesis 37:5 ¡V God given dreams
Yet Joseph never seems ashamed of his uniqueness or individuality.
In fact he is prone to bouts of pride, even arrogance.
Genesis 37:2 ¡§Joseph¡K..was tending the flocks with his brothers¡K..and he brought their father a bad report about them¡¨
A tell-tale ¡V no wonder they had intense dislike of him.
Yet amid this God had a plan for his life. A plan that would lift his life above mediocrity even in the middle of depressing circumstances.
BUT ¡V he needed preparation, polishing.
Whatever was to happen in Joseph¡¦s life one fact is TRUE ¡V Acts 7:9 ¡V ¡¥God was with him¡¦
Jesus, who some Christian writers see represented in Joseph¡¦s story, was equally a man comfortable with his uniqueness.
He happily associates himself with God¡¦s statement of identity ¡§I AM¡¨. Jesus never sought to be something he wasn¡¦t or something others wanted him to be.
Peer pressure is not only an adolescent condition.
Jesus uses strong words ¡V Mark 8:38 ¡V ¡§If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father¡¦s glory with the holy angels¡¨
YET God is not ashamed of those who hope in him ¡V Hebrews 11:16
Don¡¦t be ashamed of your uniqueness
There are 4 ways in which I see our UNIQUENESS described in Joseph¡¦s life:
„h Special Origin
Joseph mother was barren and needed divine intervention ¡V Genesis 30:22 ¡§The God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb¡¨
His older brothers were not born in such special circumstances.
NEVER forget how special NEW BIRTH is; NEVER take it for granted; NEVER be ashamed of it.
John 1:12 ¡§Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God¡¨
„h Lavish Love
Jacob loved Joseph more than his brothers ¡V Genesis 37:3
NEVER forget how much God loves YOU and how lavish that love is.
1 John 3:1 ¡§How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God¡¨
Such love is worthy of celebrating, of living unashamedly proud of God¡¦s fatherhood over me.
„h Distinct Clothing
Joseph¡¦s coat made him stand out, and he wore it without shame or embarrassment. It was given to him by his Father.
The way we live displays the core of our convictions.
Romans 13:12a-14 ¡§¡K¡KRather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ¡¨
Do not hide your distinctiveness but celebrate it. Don¡¦t worry that you are different from those who have not accepted Jesus as their Saviour, be the one who shows by the way you live that you are propud to call him Lord.
„h Divine Gifting
God had given Joseph a gift. Genesis 37:5 ¡§Joseph had a dream¡¨.
God gave him a prophetic perspective. An ability to understand spiritual reality. An ability his brothers, even his father, did not have that caused them to dislike him, even despise him.
This gift was the key to his future. Using it would hone it and allow him to grow in it. Because he didn¡¦t know that one day his gift would save his life. He did not despise it though it was the cause of his family despising him.
The presence of God¡¦s Spirit in you should give you a greater sense of spiritual reality that will not always be understood or appreciated by those closest to you. But don¡¦t despise it, feed it.