Scripture Reading: Genesis 45:21-24
“Then he sent his brothers away, and as they departed, he said, “Do not quarrel on the way.'” (Genesis 45:24)
In this passage, we are given insight into human nature. We will always struggle with conflict in our relationships. Relationships take a lot of work. Sinful people can expect to have conflict and, thus, we must constantly work on keeping healthy relationships with the ones we love. The last words of Joseph to his brothers are quite humorous — “Do not quarrel on the way.”
By now we have learned that Joseph was a very wise judge of character. Pharaoh saw this in Joseph when he said, “There is no one so discerning and wise as you are” (41:31). Though Joseph was greatly moved and was even overcome by his reunion with his brothers (43:30), he knew these men. It was for this reason that earlier he tested them. He knew that conflict was part of their nature. However, they passed the tests.
Joseph’s brothers showed clear evidence that they were transformed men, but they were still sinners. Joseph, being wise and discerning, must have realized that things would be different with his brothers when they went away from Egypt. They would be away from Joseph’s influence and power. He also knew that his brother had to face their father and confess what they had done to Joseph. This in itself could create terrible conflict among them. Therefore, Joseph spoke these words to them — “Do not quarrel on the way.”
James 4:1-10 addresses the issue of quarreling. James says that the source of quarrels and conflicts come from our inward selfish desires and prideful ambitions — “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” (James 4:1). Deep inside of us our emotions are stirred. It is out of this emotional turmoil that fights, quarrels, and conflicts come. James goes on to say, “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend on your passions” (James 4;2,3).
We have an over-desire for things we do not have. We become envious of others who have what we do not have. And often our motives are wrong — “You ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” The root problem is pride — “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). We all struggle with pride. Pride causes so much conflict, competition, and hurt in our relationships.
James gives us the cure for quarreling — “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:7-10). The key is to face up to our pride, selfish ambition, over-desires and to repent of them — “Be wretched and mourn and weep.” Then turn to the Lord in humility and He will forgive us and exalt us. Then we will be able to seek reconciliation and healing with those we are having conflict with.
Lord Jesus, I confess before You my pride, selfishness, wrong motives, and sinful desires. These things cause me to have conflict with my loved ones and others. Grant me the ability to humble myself before You. Enable me to make right strained relationships and restore me to the joy of Your salvation.
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