THE TESTING OF CHARACTER

Scripture Reading: Genesis 43:15-34

“And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth. And the men looked at each other in amazement. Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank and were merry with him.” (Genesis 43:33,34)

As we have seen, God was using Joseph as a primary agent in the lives of his brothers. God was behind all that Joseph was doing. Joseph remembered the jealousy that his brothers had for him. They were jealous because their father loved Joseph more than all his sons (37:3,4). They were also jealous of Joseph after he told them the dreams he had about being superior over them (37:5-10).

Joseph used this occasion to test their character. Had anything changed? Could they be trusted? Were they still filled with jealousy? The test came during the feast when Benjamin was given five times as much as the other brothers were given. The brothers were seated according to their birth order. They noticed this and were astonished. Benjamin was Joseph’s youngest brother. Would the older brothers be jealous of him as they had been of Joseph? Would they resent the favorable treatment shown to Benjamin?

The brothers passed the test. There was no sign of jealousy from them — “And they drank and were merry with him.” Joseph must have been relieved. However, there was still one more test that was necessary for the brothers in Joseph’s mind. We will see that in our next devotion.

There are two notable attributes of God found in this account. First, God is the provider — “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you” (v. 23). Let’s never forget who our provider truly is — “Every good and perfect gift is from above; coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). All the good gifts we receive come from our heavenly Father who loves us and who has promised to provide all we need.

Second, God is gracious. When Joseph saw Benjamin, he said, “May God be gracious to you, my son” (v. 29). Joseph had experienced the grace of God first hand. Thus he acted graciously toward his brothers. That is the way grace operates. When we have been impacted by God’s grace, we will extend grace to others.

Lord God, You are my provider. I know that every good and perfect gift I have ever received has come from Your generous hand. And I thank You for the grace that You have shown me. You have not dealt with me according to my sins and failures. You have given me what I do not deserve. You have freely given me eternal life through Your Son Jesus. Enable me to extend grace to those around me. Let me live out the gospel so that You will receive the glory that is rightly Yours.

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