Selfishness or Surrender?

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Rise and Shine for Jesus

These weekly devotionals I will be posting come from and are copyright to Pam Iannello, my pastor's late wife who went home to be with the Lord on June 18, 2008.

Learning how to face our family problems through an in-depth study of the troubled home of Joseph.

Selfishness or Surrender?

This devotion is part of the "Family Problems" series.

Who or what in life encourages you to be self-centered? Selfishness comes in many forms, a few of which we'll see today as we look again at the life of Joseph. At times, selfishness can motivate us to hoard food or other items; it prevents us from helping the poor, the needy and suffering; it can drive us to totally disregard the rights of others and even become indifferent to lost people as we put our own desires first. Only a selfish person could sit down to eat with a clear conscience while sitting near to a suffering individual! Such was the case with Joseph's brothers, for while he was nearby perishing in the pit, they sat down to eat bread without any remorse…

Genesis 37:25-28
And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.

Let's put ourselves in Joseph's place for a moment… Imagine sitting in a damp pit all alone, perhaps hungry, and a bit cold after having been stripped of your coat, definitely thirsty and very heavy hearted. Directly above the opening of the hole in the ground, the sounds of your loved ones having gathered for a meal drifts down to your ears… Shamefully, they are conversing and eating as if nothing were wrong with you at all! Considering the fact that they were the guilty ones who cast you into the pit to begin with, this type of cold-hearted selfishness would positively break the tenderest of hearts! Undeniably, Joseph had a tender heart toward his family and toward doing right in general. He always seemed to set aside his own needs to meet the needs of others and yet we find in our text today that his brothers could care less about Joseph! You would think that God would protect tenderhearted people from selfish monsters like this, but in His infinite wisdom we find that the Lord oftentimes uses gentle hearts to chisel away at hearts of stone. He uses the fragile to shame those that are the sturdiest! You see ladies; the purpose for God's preference is to put to silence the wisdom of man…

1 Cor. 1:27-29
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

Yes, the Lord chooses and uses the weak to confound the mighty, and so it is even in unsettling family situations. Which end of the pit are you on today, dear lady, the top or the bottom? In other words, who do you most often behave like in the midst of family problems when all hell breaks loose at your house - Joseph or his brothers?? Can God call on your humble example to teach others their profound need for His grace? When it comes to your personal desires, are you usually willing to lay them aside and become a nobody, or do you perform your utmost to see your wishes fulfilled as if you were a somebody?

Philip. 3:8
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

It is an interesting thought, but it is possible for a group of people to all share the same experience, yet interpret it differently. Joseph's brothers interpreted their circumstances as an ideal opportunity for them to profit at their suffering brother's expense and planned to sell him into slavery. However, we need God's wisdom to interpret any circumstance correctly. In challenging situations, the tender hearted, like Joseph, must understand they have before them the opportunity to learn how to trust the God they have submitted themselves to. They must remain surrendered to His will in every difficulty! The selfish, like Joseph's brothers, must understand they have before them the opportunity to lay aside their personal desires and learn how to submit to the Lord as God! Consequently, there IS a lesson for everyone all the time in every quandary we face.

1 John 1:8
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Incidentally, have you ever purposely left a particular family member in a pit, determined not to lift a finger to help them out? We are not to foolishly interpret family problems as an appointment for one particular member to "learn their lesson". Wives, that means it's not just our husbands that need to learn in the midst of marital conflict, it's us too!! It is also not just the parents that have something to learn in the midst of domestic quarrels, it's the children too! Both Jacob and his wife, and Joseph and his brothers all had something they needed to be taught in the midst of the problems that existed in their home. Scripture says that no flesh is to glory, but God alone! A truly happy home is only guaranteed as the glory of God shines forth in the life of each family member. It is a work entirely of grace and the world needs to witness more of the difference it can make in our families! What will you choose to display - selfishness or surrender?

If you'll notice in our main text, Joseph's brothers, driven by envy, chose to be selfish having made the decision to sell their younger brother to the traveling merchantmen to try to rid themselves of their family problem. Visualize Joseph having to clasp the hand of a family member that had just betrayed him and be drawn out of the pit and sold into slavery for twenty pieces of silver. Another clear reminder that he is a type of Christ… In spite of the heartache and the rude treatment he received, Joseph yielded himself to the conditions God had permitted that day and though he was not speedily delivered from his family dilemma, God accompanied him every step of the way until HIS purposes were worked out. What a rich testimony! May we all be as surrendered as Joseph was to God's supervision of our family problems!

God Bless,
Isaiah 60:1&2
Copyright 2000 Pamela A. Iannello
Revised 2003 Meet Ms. Pam

Other Rise and Shine Devotionals
New Beginnings Baptist Church Website

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