Summary: If you want to make real change in your life, submit to God's discipline; then in dependence upon Christ, admit and quit your sin.
When Jack quit farming and moved, he discovered he was the only Baptist in his new town of all Catholics. That was okay, but the neighbors had a problem with his barbecuing beef every Friday. They were not allowed to eat red meat on Fridays, but the tempting aroma was getting the best of them, so they got together and confronted Jack.
“Jack,” they said, “since you are the only Baptist in this whole town and there's not a Baptist church for many miles, we think you should join our church and become a Catholic.” Jack thought about it for a minute and decided they were right. Jack talked to the priest, and they arranged it.
The big day came, and the priest had Jack kneel. He put his hand on Jack’s head and said, “Jack, you were born a Baptist, you were raised a Baptist, and now,” he said as he sprinkled some water on Jack’s head, “you are a Catholic!”
Both Jack and the neighbors were happy. But the following Friday evening, the aroma of grilled beef still drifted from Jack’s yard. The neighbors went to talk to him about this, and as they approached the fence they heard Jack saying something strangely familiar to the steak: “You were born a beef, you were raised a beef, and now” he said as he sprinkled salt over the meat, “you are a fish!” (Debi Zahn, Sandwich, IL; www.PreachingToday.com)
This silly little story raises the question: How does real change happen in my life? If I don’t like what’s going on in my life today, how can I be truly different tomorrow? If change doesn’t come through religious ritual or the declaration that I am different, how can I experience genuine transformation?
Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 44, Genesis 44, where we see Joseph’s brothers undergoing some very real change in their own lives. They have been jealous and bitter for most of their lives. Their families are starving, and now for the 2nd time, they have gone to Egypt to buy food from a very powerful Egyptian ruler.
They don’t know that this Egyptian ruler is their brother, Joseph, whom they betrayed and sold into slavery more than 20 years previously, and they don’t know what he’s up to. He has accused them of being spies, but he fed them from his own table. Now he sends them away with some very unusual instructions for his steward.
Genesis 44:1 Then he commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack… (ESV)
This is the silver they used to buy food.
Genesis 44:2-12 and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him. As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. They had gone only a short distance from the city. Now Joseph said to his steward, “Up, follow after the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? Is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? You have done evil in doing this.’ ” When he overtook them, he spoke to them these words. They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! Behold, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord’s servants.” He said, “Let it be as you say: he who is found with it shall be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent.” Then each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. And he searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. (ESV)
Benjamin was their father’s new favorite son since Joseph had disappeared. Are they going to betray him too and go free at Benjamin’s expense? No.
Genesis 44:13 Then they tore their clothes [a sign of extreme distress]. And every man loaded his donkey and they returned to the city.
Instead of returning home with another lie for their father, they ALL returned to the city with Benjamin to face the music together.
Genesis 44:14-16 When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there. They fell before him to the ground. Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?” And Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.” (ESV)