My friend Scott McGaha wrote today’s WMD.
Set An Example
We live in a world that seems to be lacking leadership. At least that’s what I hear people constantly complain about. Why is that? Honestly, there’s a wide collection of reasons that when combined would probably be more complex than anything I ever failed to understand in Calculus. So, rather than attempt a complex explanation, let me try a simple one: it’s my fault.
No, I’m not to blame for all the problems in the world, but, if I want to find a solution, the best place to start is with me. Now, this doesn’t have to be a Christian or religious lesson, this applies to every single one of us, but I’m gonna show you something in scripture to help explain my point.
In case you aren’t familiar with the story, there’s 2 main Josephs in the Bible. One is the husband of Mary, the earthly father of Jesus. The other, which I’m going to talk about, was the son of Jacob and his wife Rachel. Many of you have heard mention of the coat of many colors. That was Joseph’s coat. He was eventually sold out by his half brothers into slavery. He rose to a position of authority in Potiphar’s house, only to be betrayed again by Potiphar’s wife this time. In time, he would again rise to a position of authority, this time with the Pharaoh. There, he would once again encounter his brothers, and his actions have been the source of countless sermons and discussions.
But what I want you to see, something that I’ve never heard talked about, is what happened when he was just a small boy. Joseph’s father, Jacob, had a twin brother, Esau. Esau was the first child to be born, so in that culture he was the heir. Jacob wanted the birthright, so one day he took advantage of the situation and got Esau to sell him his birthright. Now, I’ve never heard this said either, but to me, Esau tried to change his mind and steal back the birthright as their father was dying, but his attempt failed and Jacob received the blessing from his dying father. Esau would become furious, Jacob and his family fled, and for some time they were separated.
Eventually, the 2 brothers would meet again, and this is my main point. In Genesis 33, Jacob and his family are going to meet Esau, who now has an army of 400 men. Jacob is helpless. He steps away from his family, walks out alone to meet his brother and what I’m sure he believed was the end of his life. As he approaches his brother, he bows seven times. But Genesis 33:4 says this: “But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.”
That verse should hang in our churches and homes and be engraved on our hearts. Family. Brothers. Twins at that. As close as any two people could be. But eventually divided. Angry. Bitter. Betrayed. Vengeful. And perhaps even justified. But Esau took the path less traveled by, at least today: he chose forgiveness. And as Matthew West sings, there were two prisoners freed: his brother, but also himself. We ALL could learn from Esau’s example.
Someone did. A little boy, standing behind his mother, Rachel, in the rear: Joseph. Little Joseph I’m sure knew something was not right between his father and uncle. He probably didn’t understand everything, but children have a way of sensing conflict. We don’t like it either, we just ignore our feelings, but to children it’s toxic. I suspect his heart pounded as he watched his dad walk out to meet Esau. Tears of fear probably stained his dusty cheeks. And just as it looked like the worst might happen, he saw something that probably wasn’t often talked about either: forgiveness and reconciliation. 2 major characteristics of love. You wanna check yourself, see how loving you are? How forgiving are you?
Oftentimes we tell ourselves “so what, it’s my life” and we ignore the truth that our decisions have consequences that usually extend beyond the borders of our individual life. Esau’s did. His touched the heart of his nephew. And I believe it was a lesson Joseph never forgot. How could you forget watching your dad be forgiven?
Many years later, Joseph is now in a position of authority under the Egyptian Pharaoh when he meets his brothers, who had sold him into slavery. In Genesis 45, as he is revealing himself to his brothers who don’t recognize him, it says he wept so loudly that the Egyptians outside heard him. I wonder how loud Esau and Jacob had wept many years earlier?
Then, in Genesis 50:19-20, one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Joseph tells his brothers, who are fearful of him after their father dies, “Don’t be afraid. You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”
My point to all this is, the example we set is important on so many levels. Our actions and attitudes have far reaching, generational impact. Joseph watched his family forgive as a child and he followed that example as an adult. That’s what character and a legacy are all about. What sort of legacy are you imprinting on those in your life? You wanna make a difference in the world and see it change for the better? Then start with yourself and those around you. You can begin by forgiving me if I’ve ever wronged you in any way. I’m sorry. God bless