There are two arenas I am challenged in today – discrimination and boundaries.
Joseph was served at his private table, the brothers off by themselves and the Egyptians off by themselves (Egyptians won’t eat at the same table with Hebrews; it’s repulsive to them). The brothers were seated facing Joseph, arranged in order of their age, from the oldest to the youngest. They looked at one another wide-eyed, wondering what would happen next. When the brothers’ plates were served from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s plate came piled high, far more so than his brothers. And so the brothers feasted with Joseph, drinking freely. – Genesis 43:32-34 MSG
I noticed how much prejudice there was in the seating arrangements. When it comes to discrimination, I do not believe I am even aware that I could very well be the one judging from the inside and then finding myself, on the outside, acting them out. I asked God to check my heart to see if I had ever thought I was better than others and how did I act. I am sad to say that God brought back memories of times where I did act like I was better than others and how I held them in contempt in my heart and how I portrayed that in my actions. I had to ask God for forgiveness for my arrogance. There is something about pride that enslaves – a poisonous root. I know that this type of partiality and discrimination are incompatible with being a follower of Jesus.
That leads me to my second thought about setting boundaries. While I accept God’s forgiveness, I think about what that might really look like when I am with others who have harmed me. While I have heard many sermons on what forgiveness looks like, I think I really like Joseph’s approach here. He used a test to see if his brothers were in a better place than when he was with them. How they performed in the test would determine his next course of action. I believe that today we might use the term – boundaries – when determining our trust factor.
As his father Jacob honoured him and that caused resentment among his brothers, Joseph mimicked that by honouring Benjamin as his distinguished guest. He wanted to honour Benjamin, but he was also testing his brothers’ feelings. Would they hate Benjamin as they had hated him? They passed the test.
Sometimes in the hurry towards forgiveness, which I am a fan of, I still think that boundaries are a healthy place for us to create. I never thought of testing relationships to see if they have grown or changed but it sounds like a good place to also start getting rid of some of my prejudices that I have created along the way.
Father, I am challenged today and ask that You walk with me and show me how to be more like You. I ask for Your wisdom as I navigate these two areas of my life.