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Posts Tagged ‘favortism’

Art by Shoshannah Brombacher

Art by Shoshannah Brombacher

We’re not supposed to play favorites. And yet, we do. Well, all right, let me make this more personal. I do. It’s not necessarily overtly conscious, but I catch myself expecting certain behaviors from one sibling or another. I’m sure this crosses over to my work, my neighbors, and my friends. After all, that is how we get a “best friend.” My favorite.

Genesis 37:3-4
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornaterobe for him.When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

But, there’s more to this than that. This is not just about the father who blatantly treats one child differently than another. It’s also about the siblings themselves. They, too, wanted to be their father’s favorite. Don’t we?

For many years, joked about it, but secretly truly resented my mother’s preference for my brother, especially since he didn’t really deserve it. I’m not saying anything I haven’t told him over the years. She favored him primarily because he was male and the oldest. This was the norm in her day and in her generation. And yet, I was the one who made sure that she got a call on Mother’s day and holidays. I was the one who visited. I was the one who took her places and eventually, even took her into our home. What about me? Look what I’m doing for you. See? See? See?

James and John, Jesus’s own disciples were the same. Let us be the one who sit on either side of you. We want to be your favorites (and by implication, not John and Peter).

I’m thinking I’ve been doing this same dance with the Christ. Anoint me Jesus, make me special, pour out your gifts upon me, use me in some miraculous way, speak through me, astound the world.

Yikes! God forgive me for those secret thoughts.

There’s no doubt, Jacob made an error, showing his favoritism so overtly. Joseph, too, made an error, telling his dreams of exaltation and power.

But, here’s the real point.

In the same way that Jesus told James and John, “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” [Mark 10:38] He was trying to clarify: the greater the anointing, the greater the cost, the greater the sacrifice.

Before Joseph became powerful, his life led him through great trials.

If I accept the mantel of blessing, then I must also understand and accept what comes with it. It’s not a sled ride downhill. It’s a climb. It’s not a sailboat blown by the wind, it’s a rowboat.

We must be careful what we ask for and count the cost.

Joseph did not ask to be favorite but the impact of that position changed the course of his life. In some ways, Jacob, himself, by casting Joseph in that role, initiated that direction. So, let us all take care. We are all responsible, whether by favoriting one person over another or by wanting it.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” [Luke 12:48b]

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