Genesis 37:1-4, 12-24
Talk about a time when you stood up for someone else, or someone else stood up for you. What was the situation? What happened?
Read Genesis 37:1-4, 12-24. From the NIV: Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.” “Very well,” he replied. So he said to him, “Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.” Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron. When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?” He replied, “I’m looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are grazing their flocks?” “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing—and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
Joseph was the favorite son and it seems like he liked to tell on his brothers. So Joseph was a tattletale and the favorite, and his brothers hated him for it. They hated him so much that they plotted to kill him. But Reuben knew how much Joseph meant to his father, and so he stood up for him. Kind of. Reuben told his brothers not to kill Joseph, but instead to throw him into a cistern. Now we know that Reuben intended to go back and rescue Joseph, but as we find out later in the story, that didn’t happen. Instead, the brothers sold Joseph to traders and he became a slave in Egypt. Reuben sort of stood up for Joseph because he asked for Joseph’s life to be spared, but at the same time, he still went along with the brothers basically kidnapping Joseph. Imagine that you are in Reuben’s shoes. Your little brother the tattletale is trying to tag along again. Your father always believes him when he says things about you, and you know he’s your father’s favorite. But you also know that it’s wrong to kill him. So you stop your brothers from doing that, but not from scaring him a bit.
Sometimes we have to stand up for people who annoy us. There may be someone at school that nobody really talks to. You know you should talk to them, but they irritate you. Maybe they are the person the bully picks on. It can be hard to stand up for someone, to put ourselves in harm’s way, especially when they drive you crazy. But Jesus stood up for the people that others didn’t like. He stood up for the people who others made fun of, who others said were unworthy. Jesus stood up for them. And he calls us to stand up for them too. Reuben sort of stood up for Joseph. But he still allowed the others to scare him. It’s hard to stand up for someone when everyone else is making fun of them or wants to do something to them. It’s scary. You may worry that maybe they’ll hurt you too, or maybe they won’t want to be your friend anymore. But if you pray and ask God for courage, God will help you stand up for someone else. And in doing so, you will show God’s love to that person. You may lose a few friends because of it, but you’ll be doing what Jesus did and what God wants you to do.
• Talk about a time when you stood up for someone else or when someone else stood up for you. How did that feel?
• Talk about a time when you felt like God was telling you to stand up for someone. What happened?
• As a family, talk about ways we can stand up for others.
Thank God for standing up for us when we didn’t deserve it. Ask God for courage to stand up for someone else.
Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.