“His brothers were jealous of him . . .” – Genesis 37:11
I’m sure you are familiar with the story. If not from the Bible in the Book of Genesis certainly you’ve seen Andrew Lloyd Webber’s acclaimed musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. It begins with Jacob, father of twelve sons, who shows favoritism toward Joseph by giving him a special colorful coat. Because of that the other brothers become jealous, kidnap Joseph and sell him into slavery to the Egyptians. The rest of the story is about Joseph’s rollercoaster rise to power in Egypt as Pharaoh’s faithful right hand man. Eventually he is reunited with his estranged family when they show up in Egypt begging for food in the midst of a great famine in their home country of Canaan. Joseph not only forgives his brothers for what they had done to him, but because of his powerful leadership position is able to save his family from starvation.
Have you ever found yourself in a favored position only to be scorned by others who are jealous of you? Promoted over your peers? Dated the prettiest girl, or the handsome star athlete? Been victorious in a sporting event or contest? Won an election? Attained extraordinary financial success? Or simply been someone’s favorite for no particular reason? It happened to me in eighth grade. We had this math teacher named Mr. Collins who for some unexplainable reason seemed to favor me over almost all my classmates. On occasion he would leave the classroom which, as you might expect, then turned into chaos. Upon his return everyone in the class got punished except – you guessed it – yours truly. Talk about being a victim of jealousy!!
Others being jealous, unfortunately, is a price we pay for success and good fortune. What we must guard against, however, is shying away from it for fear of the jealousy that will inevitably occur. Rather, it should be our duty to use such successes, accomplishments, favored positions, and calls to leadership graciously and responsibly for the betterment of others. Consider Joseph who set the example, not only rescuing his family from famine and using the opportunity to reconcile with them, but eventually impacting the entirety of the Hebrew people. Yet in the beginning Joseph had to endure the same response to the favoritism we all experience; for “His brothers were jealous of him.”