Scripture text for Wednesday, January 20, 2010: Genesis 42:1-42:38
The dramatic topics of Genesis 42 grab our attention: starvation, confused identity, familial tension, guilt and shame, mercy in the context of expected nose-to-nose retaliation, and fear of compounding loss. Although the circumstances of the passage may be far removed from our contemporary lives, the characters’ underlying motives are not unfamiliar.
Jacob was motivated by concern for his extended family to send his boys to Egypt for food, and also by love coupled with fear to protect his beloved Benjamin. Pride motivated the calloused brothers to defend themselves against Joseph’s accusations as well as their own soiled consciences. Joseph, motivated by forgiveness rather than revenge, legislated justice only as it was softened by compassion.
What motivates us? Do we step out in faith or retreat when times are hard? Defrock or defend our weaknesses? Face our consciences or hide from them? Are we quick to judge others who hurt or disappoint us?
What rules our hearts? Bitterness, dread, and regret? Mercy, passion, and worship of almighty God? Do our lives bear witness to anxiety or the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit?
Like Jacob and his sons, we are motivated to submit to something: our own shallow understanding or the wisdom of the Lord of life. We choose arrogance or humility, resentment or forgiveness, deception or truth, skepticism or faith, despair or hope.
Prayer: Lord, give me wisdom and motivation to seek and respond to You as I face the situations of my life today.
Devotion prepared by Beth Muehlhausen