Envy is one of the most destructive forces on planet Earth. It is a murderous, rampaging monster with an appetite for harm that can never be satisfied. No matter how many lives it destroys, it never sleeps and its thirst is never quenched. It has torn apart more families, caused more deaths, and started more wars than anything else in human history. James 3:16: For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
Whether we want to admit it or not, envy is also a sin. We Christians take great offense to homosexuality, fornication, lying, and stealing, but envy is viler to God than all of these combined, and we allow it to run rampant in our churches. Envy will fracture the body of Christ and burn houses of God to the ground faster than any unwed couple shacked up together, yet we turn a blind eye to it, but this cancer will kill God’s people. Proverbs 14:30: A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones.
Jacob (or Israel) had 12 sons, but the two youngest were his favorites because they were from his favored wife. Rachel had died giving birth to Benjamin, and he and Joseph were the only remnants of her Jacob had. Genesis 37:3: Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. The coat of many colors made Joseph immediately identifiable; wherever he went, anyone who saw him would recognize him as the son of Jacob.
God doesn’t show favoritism; He has made a coat of many colors for each and every one of us. The coats we wear make us recognizable, and people shouldn’t be able to even look at us without being able to tell that we are Christians. The Lord doesn’t want us to just have one gift or one ministry, but wants to give us a coat of many bright and beautiful colors. Some wear coats colorful with preaching, or teaching, or children’s ministry, or cleaning. Every single act for God is another color on our beautiful God-given coat.
But some within the Body of Christ will be envious of the coats we wear. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him (Genesis 37:4). Beware of any so-called Christian who stands back and constantly criticizes and belittles others who bravely try to do work for the Lord, but then sits and does nothing. They have the spirit of Joseph’s brothers, and it will lead us all on a path straight to Hell.
Joseph had two dreams, each signifying that one day his brothers would bow to him. They weren’t exactly excited for him: And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words (verse 8). The Lord often gives amazing dreams and prophecies to His children, but all too often there are those who are at a distance, jealous at what God has given to others. But God is no respecter of persons; He longs to give us all our own list of unique gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:31: But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
Verse 12: And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem. The brothers were sent to Shechem to tend to their father’s flock, but over time they wandered farther away, until Jacob received no more news from them. He sent Joseph to find them. And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem (verse 14). Joseph came to Shechem, but could not find his brothers there, and asked a stranger on the road if he had seen them. Verses 16-17: And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks. And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan. Dothan was far from Shechem; they had strayed from where their father had intended them to be.
Just like Joseph’s brothers, we separate ourselves from the will of the Father by getting together and gossiping about people. We may not like someone at church, so we will find more people that feel the same way and will form a small group that comes together to despise that person. Unwittingly or not, we are speaking death over that child of God. The brothers had plenty of time to gossip about Joseph, and the more they talked about him and his dreams, the more their hatred grew. By the time they saw him coming, they were ready to murder him in cold blood. Verse 18: And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.
But God was not going to allow this. Reuben, the oldest, knew his father would hold him accountable if any harm befell the favorite child, so he intervened. Verses 21-23: And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. Notice that before they did anything else, they seized and ripped off his coat. The coat of many colors was a sign that Joseph was the favorite son. It represents the coat of many gifts that God clothes with each of his children, and the devil will try to seize the coat first. Before the enemy ever does anything terrible to a child of God, he will first attack their gifts. He will do everything he can to stop a pastor or evangelist from preaching. He will take any step to stop a teacher from teaching a great lesson. He will try to destroy a singer’s voice and tear apart a children’s class.
One can imagine the screams of terror that filled the night sky as evening passed. Joseph at the bottom of the well cried out to his brothers to bring him out, but they sat and ate bread while ignoring him. Verse 25 tells us And they sat down to eat bread. How full of hatred could they have been to enjoy a meal while their frightened, hungry, thirsty brother called for salvation?
Yet we the church are guilty. The spirit of Joseph’s brothers has taken over, and we are ignoring the cries of the unsaved all around us. Whether they realize it or not, every sinner’s soul is crying out for Jesus. With spiritual ears, we would be able to heart their blood-curdling shrieks, but we have tuned them out. We come to church and dine on the presence of God, while ignoring the starving souls outside our churches. Like gluttons, we are stuffing our faces full of the Bread of Life, but our job isn’t just to satisfy our own appetites; it is to serve that Bread to the world around us. Mark 16:15: And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. The church is falling far short of this great commandment.
We gather together every Sunday to praise God and receive of His anointing, but we are supposed to take that anointing with us out into the world. Even while we partake of the glory of God, people who are starving for it casually stroll past our front doors. Souls who are lost and on their way to Hell are hiding in houses all around our churches, only a stone’s throw away, but we do nothing to try to reach them. We want to hear good music and preaching so we can edify ourselves. But we don’t want to hear the chorus of souls on their way to Hell; we want the preacher to preach louder and the music to be turned up to drown it out.
Rather than having compassion on Joseph, his brothers considered him an irritant. When they saw a company of Ishmaelites on the way to Egypt, they decided to deal with him while making a small profit. Verses 26 and 27: 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.
How many souls do we pass by on the way to church that are unsaved? Are we so unwilling to share the Bread of Life with them that we will sell them out to the enemy so we no longer have to hear their cries for God? We are so wrapped up in our own lives that we find it an inconvenience to do work for the Lord. Just like Joseph’s brothers, we pass by souls on the brink of Hell, crying out for us to reach down and save them, and we look each and every one of them in the eyes and say “I have better things to do.”
The brothers lived to regret their actions. It took many years, but Joseph rose to become the most powerful man in Egypt next to the Pharaoh, and his brothers eventually reaped what they had sown. They came begging to a man they didn’t even recognize as their long-lost brother for food, and the paradox is that by trying to destroy him, they had set in motion the events that would make his dream came true.
The spirit of Joseph’s brothers is alive and well, and if we don’t deal with it soon, we will reap the same consequences. Just like the brothers had to stand before Joseph and pay the price for ignoring his cries for salvation so many years before, one day we will stand before the throne of Christ and give an account for every soul we have let slip through our fingers into eternal Hell. Ezekiel 3:18: When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.