When I’m preparing a sermon, I always study the text and try to draw a message from it. Sometimes the text grabs ahold of me and preaches to me. That’s the way it was as I prepared for the sermon from yesterday’s worship service. As we continue through the book of Genesis, we began looking at the life of Joseph yesterday. In Genesis 37, we see how Joseph’s brothers betrayed him by first plotting to kill him, and then selling him into slavery! We might be tempted to think, “How in the world could they do that to their own brother?!?” We might think, I could never do something so heartless and cruel.
There’s a key in the text that helps us understand this, I think. Genesis 37:4 says, “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” (NIV 2011). In the Hebrew, the last part of this verse literally reads “they. . . could not speak peace (Hebrew: shalom) to him.” The jealousy they felt in their heart, was expressed in their speech about their brother, and resulted in their being willing to kill him.
The way that this text convicted me was while we may say, “Oh, I’d never do anything as horrible as Joseph’s brothers did to him!” There are many times we may harbor ill-feelings toward others. We are at a point in our culture where it is becoming common-place to hear hateful things said about other people as well. As Christ-followers, this can’t be.
James warns us about the danger of our tongues.
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”
(James 3:9-12, NIV 2011)
How are we speaking to and about others? Are we speaking to them of God’s peace (shalom)? Can we say, “I wish God’s best for their lives”? This was a “gut check” for me personally, and also a concern I have for my fellow Christians. How do we speak of our fellow Christians? Or our family? Or those in our community? What about those beyond our own community? I pray that God’s Spirit will work within us to see how we can speak life into those around us.
I heard from Lowell and Sheri Glick a few days ago. They wanted to make sure that we as a congregation know what a blessing our last offering was. Because of how difficult the terrain is on their vehicles, repair bills are expensive and they come frequently. Our last offering came to them at just a time that several repairs came at the same time. They write in part, “That bill would have been staggering without the help of North Danvers and a few other friends. May the Lord bless each one of you, know you are making a difference!” What a privilege it is for us at NDMC to participate in the ministry that Lowell and Sheri are doing in Mexico.
One more thing: make sure you are thinking about who you want to invite to join us for a worship service this Fall. The summer is speeding by quickly and September will be here before we know it!