We often can justify the reasons why we use our tongue as a barb to lash and slash out to others:

  • we are defending ourselves
  • we are positioning ourselves at the other person’s expense
  • we are reacting out of hurt
  • we feel left out

Each of us have our own barb triggers. What is yours?

For Joseph, son of Rachel and Jacob/Israel, it was being bullied by his elder brothers:

  • Joseph, at the age of 17, gave a bad report of his brothers to his father. He had taken responsibility of the eldest by giving this report (Genesis 37.2)
  • Joseph was coddled with a multi-coloured long sleeve coat (read expensive white-collar coat) which only emphasized Jacob’s insensitivity to the family dynamics he was aggitating
  • Joseph’s brothers spoke antagonistically with him every chance they got, out of jealosy
  • Joseph had vision-dreams that their assets (sheaves of wheat) bowed down (acknowledging authority) to Joseph’s assets (sheaves), and that the sun, moon and stars made obeisance to him. In frustration Joseph didn’t hold his tongue but spoke in retaliation and told this, his personal truth. It became nothing but a barb to his brothers as they hated both his dreams and words he used to humiliate them. His pride and ego got in the way of prudence. In his immaturity, he was wanting to gain acceptance from his brothers and to prove his position that he was equal if not better than they were
  • Joseph’s lack of prudence extended to telling his father about the second dream. The father became rather offended that his favorite son was dreaming of ruling over him. His father kept the matter in mind nevertheless (v. 11)
  • Jacob/Israel sent Joseph off to give him a report on how the brothers are doing with the sheep. Joseph, in his very sense of service and responsibility, was training himself up to lead a mighty nation by being responsible for all his father had and watching over his brothers. He was being treated as the heir of the father’s wealth and he was being protected.  The vision was in play…
  • The location where his brothers were had been changed from Shechem to Dothan, unbeknownst to Israel, thus it became a perfect place to waylay him. The brothers sold Joseph into Egypt. They had considered killing him.

Joseph erred by throwing out to his father and brothers the vision God laid on his heart. He made himself a target of envy. Joseph had favour from both Israel (Jacob his father) and from God. The coat and being ratted on didn’t go over well with the brothers. They succumbed to looking at what they don’t have instead of looking at what they do have. They were wealthy enough in their own right and had an inheritance.

Joseph suddenly was thrown into a rough and tumble life, a life he had been coddled from experiencing. He had time to reflect on what a screw-up he had been as a brother while he was stashed in a pit in the wilderness by his siblings. He was being pressed down, tumbled about, having his barbs scraped off. He had the angry resentful voices of his brothers echo in his brain. He recalled with gratitude Reuben, Jacob’s first born and Joseph’s half-brother, who spoke up against the swarm of brothers who wanted to kill him and he saved Joseph’s life.

Have you been thrown into a pit? When was the last time you faced your unruly tongue? Does the immaturity of pride and ego trip you up? What you dish out, you receive in turn. What you practice for future fulfillment is preparation for that visionary time.

Cease trying to prove your authority, to prove who you are. This immaturity only exposes insecurity and wishful thinking. Simply be your self  in serving others with all the wonderful gifts inside of you that you have been hoarding up. You are your own worst enemy when you provoke envy and jealosy in others. To root out immature trying, you need to go on a special barb-destroying journey as Joseph did. He had to learn that to lead is to serve.

Ego, pride hiding insecurity, proving that you are accepted are enslavements. This is not relationship building but makes enemies from provoking envy and jealosy leading to destruction of a dream. Eny and jealosy leads to a malicious plot. It led to murder with Cain and Able, showing us the human condition.

Let go of envy and jealosy when you see others favoured. Ask your Creator for forgiveness of being envious of other people’s favour and success. Declare your rejection of it in your life. Embrace the Saving Power granted to you by the Creator. If you don’t know how to accomplish that, ask me. You do not have to remain trapped in this disempowering pit.

Janet Wiebe