Genesis 38:24-26 About three months later, Judah was told, “Tamar, your daughter-in-law, has acted like a prostitute. And now, because of this, she’s pregnant.” “Bring her out, and let her be burned!” Judah demanded. But as they were taking her out to kill her, she sent this message to her father-in-law: “The man who owns these things made me pregnant. Look closely. Whose seal and cord and walking stick are these?” Judah recognized them immediately and said, “She is more righteous than I am, because I didn’t arrange for her to marry my son Shelah.” And Judah never slept with Tamar again.
A friend who is addicted to alcohol criticizes your smoking habit. Your girlfriend gossips about your gossip problem. It’s what people do. We judge others when we are just as guilty of the same things. I saw a sign recently that read, “don’t judge me just because my sin looks different than yours.” Now don’t get me wrong, we need to be called out on our sin. We need accountability. We need friends who steer us toward God. But let’s not burn the prostitute when we are the ones who slept with her… so to speak.
Judah was a man of God. He had no business sleeping with a prostitute; he knew better than that. Unbeknownst to him, the prostitute he slept with wasn’t a prostitute at all – it was his daughter-in-law. Ew. A while later, Judah is told that Tamar committed an act of prostitution. Now here is where awareness of your own sin comes in. This is when you think to yourself, “I really want to punish her, but I just slept with a prostitute myself.” Instead, he recommends burning her.
Jesus said that we should remove the plank from our own eye before we point out the speck in our brother’s eye. That’s like someone covered in dirt saying to a friend, “Hey, you’ve got a little dirt on your face.” What’s a little dirt on a friend matter if you are covered in it yourself? It was upon the realization that he was filthy himself that Judah changed his tone. He exclaimed that this sinner was far more righteous than he was. He became painfully aware of his own shortcomings and it caused him to have grace on her. If we would only do the same, we might be able to extend some grace also.
Is your pointer finger covered in dirt?
Genesis 37:9-10 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?”
Some people over share. Have you ever sat and talked to someone who told you too much? I mean, I feel bad that you are sick and all, but I really don’t need to now the consistency of your vomit or how many trips to the bathroom you made. TMI. That is all highly personal information that I don’t care to know. Or what about over sharing the details of a story: I ran into this guy the other day. He was just getting out of his truck – it was a Ford. Back when I was in high school my best friend drove a Ford pickup truck and his dog used to ride in the back. His dog had come from a shelter that rescued strays from abusive homes. So this dog used to…. and on and on and on… What was the point of the story again? Were you telling me about a guy you met?
Over sharing can drive people crazy. But can you over share the things that God is telling you? According to Joseph’s story, the answer is yes. He was having some crazy dreams about hay and stars bowing down to him. Now keep in mind that he was spending all his time with sheep in the fields, so dreams about hay and stars don’t seem that out of the ordinary. He starts talking to his brothers and his dad about these dreams and it didn’t go over well. “So, we are going to bow down to you, huh? We’ll see about that you little punk.” And they sold him into slavery.
Now Joseph’s story worked out and they ended up bowing down to him many years later. But I wonder if maybe he should’ve been a little more discreet with his dreamy details. Would things have gone different for Joseph if he would have kept his mouth shut? We see a young lady in the book of Luke who is told that her son is the Messiah. Her response was to treasure these words and ponder them in her heart. I think that young Joseph could have pondered some things in his heart instead of blabbing to this brothers.
God speaks to us, too. I wonder sometimes if we know how to handle what He tells us. Like Joseph, we feel like we HAVE TO tell everyone. What if God showed you something that He wanted you to treasure? What if it was something for you to ponder in your heart? We can’t automatically assume that when God speaks to us, that it is for everyone else’s ears. It may just be for ours. He may be depositing something in us that we are to hold on to.
*When God speaks, ask Him what you are supposed to do with the information. Are you really supposed to share it or should you just treasure it?
Genesis 35:1-2 Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.” So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.
It’s that awkward moment when you walk into the room and the person watching TV quickly changes the channel. Have you experienced that? The kids are watching TV and they change the channel or turn it off real quick when you walk in. Or maybe you have been the channel changer. You were watching something inappropriate and upon someone entering the room, you changed the channel. It’s all a little bit embarrassing, really. It makes people wonder what was going on.
When God showed up to invite Jacob to Bethel, he changed the channel, too. Upon this invitation, he tells his family to get rid of the foreign gods. He tells them to get pure and change their clothes. What they were watching wasn’t good, but it took God showing up for them to change channels. It seems to me that with all of God’s blessings on Jacob’s life, that he wouldn’t have to scramble for the remote. There shouldn’t have been foreign gods there in the first place. Why not follow the Lord with all your heart even when no one is watching?
Let me ask you the same question: why not follow the Lord with all YOUR heart even when no one is watching? Does it take someone walking in the room to change the channel? Does God have to show up on your doorstep for you to serve Him? I hope in my life the answer is no. I hope to serve Him the same when I am in public and when I am in private. I hope to honor Him when no one is watching. Because it shouldn’t take God calling me in for a meeting to change the channel. I should be on the right one to begin with.
*Do you need to change some channels in your life?
Genesis 34:25-26 Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male.They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left.
Earlier this year, some kids were saying some things about my daughter on the bus. We dealt with it, but my oldest son had a bone to pick. “Do you need me to go down to your school and teach someone a lesson?” he asked. He was ready to make some little boys pay dearly for their words. Man was I proud! Really I was. Not that he wanted to knock heads together, but that he wanted to defend his sister. This is the stuff we have been depositing in our children – we will stand together as a family. He gets it!
The problem is, there is a difference between responding and reacting. Responding to a situation is wisdom; reacting to it is foolishness. In Genesis 34, Dinah was mistreated. In fact this scumbag Shechem took advantage of her. Not cool Shechem. Not cool. So out comes daddy’s shotgun if you ask me. That’s the kind of emotion this kind of thing draws out of us. Injustice, abuse, violation… I hate it all! But what comes next in the story leaves the realm of response and into complete overreaction. Dinah’s brothers don’t just take care of Schechem, they kill every male in the city. Um, guys – you might have gone too far.
The thing is, Jacob thought the same thing. He tells his sons that they overreacted; they went too far. He fears that they went beyond the point of justice to the point of making enemies. This is what happens when we overreact. We end up not only hurting others, we hurt ourselves. We damage our reputation and fracture relationships. We are perceived as reckless and possibly much worse. Even though I do it myself, I am learning that overreacting isn’t worth it. If the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, I’ll take a fruit salad of just that, please!
*Lord, help us to keep our emotions in check so that we only respond and not overreact!