Often when we hear the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis it is usually associated with Joseph’s obedience. Joseph was obedient in every position in which he served, first as youngest son, then slave, prisoner and finally governor of Egypt. But today we begin a short study on not on Joseph’s morality but on his listening . In the letter of James we receive the instruction to be listeners.
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath James 1:19
We begin in ancient days in which the power of the sons flowed from their birth order as well as from the mother to whom they had been born. Though Joseph was the second to youngest at the time the story begins, we do need to remember that he was the firstborn of Jacob’s beloved Rachael. Leah, Rachael’s younger sister, gave Jacob six sons, the first born being Reuben. The other four brothers were born of Rachael and Leah’s handmaidens. Though Jacob preferred Joseph because he was Rachael’s son, he also had earned the right to be trusted. When Joseph had his dreams he eagerly shared them with his father and when the meaning was misunderstood accepted his father’s rebuke without complaint. Joseph’s life reflects how deeply he reverenced his father’s wishes.
Today let’s discover the value of listening even when we don’t like what we are hearing.
A) Listening means sharing our dreams with others
Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. Genesis 37:5
After Joseph had received his first dream it would have been easy for him to be very selective about who he told. If he wanted to be most confident he could have told his mother. But Joseph was both curious about the meaning and respectful of his older brothers’ wisdom in helping him to understand. Joseph’s brothers however were less than delighted by what they felt the dream meant. It seems even likely that some of the brothers even doubted that Joseph had a dream and supposed he simply made up the story for reasons of ambition.
B) Listening means hearing correction without argument
Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” So he told it to his father and his brothers….Genesis 37:9-10a
If you are anything like most of us you do not rush to people who are critical of your dreams and longings. But Joseph after being harshly criticized by his brothers after his first dream went a step higher and brought the second dream to both the brothers and his father. It probably would have been much easier for Joseph simply to remain silent however Joseph had a great desire to listen to the opinions of others. At this point in the story even Jacob became angry with Joseph (probably much to the other brothers’ delight!) but we hear no push back at all from Joseph. In the face of rejection and accusation Joseph simply trusted that God must have something in store that he could not yet understand. Are you and I willing to still listen without complaint when people treat us unfairly? I believe these situations that are our greatest opportunities to learn how to listen.
C) Listening means accepting fully the responsibility trusted to us
Then he said to him, “Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me Genesis 37:14
At this point in the story we discover that Jacob wanted news and he chose for Joseph to go, listen and bring back to him how the others were doing. Joseph by his lifestyle, by his responses and by his respect had earned the right to be trusted. When others around us find us to be good listeners we may be astonished at the things we are asked to do. We often judge ourselves on how well we are able to say something, but others and more importantly God value highly our ability to listen. !
Most of us say often that we would like to hear from God. Today’s question is, “Are we ready to listen?”