“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.”
Genesis 37:3, 4
What causes the kind of violence and acts of hatred that are so common in our culture? Even among family members, heinous crimes are becoming more commonplace. What causes the malicious treatment often witnessed among professing Christians? The story of Joseph and his brothers has at least one answer to these questions. The ill treatment of Joseph by his brothers was the result of pent up resentment and bitterness. Joseph had reported some of his brothers’ mischief to their father. Then they were jealous over Jacob’s preferential treatment of Joseph. Added to that, they resented the dreams that Joseph shared with them. One thing led to another, and eventually they sold him into a life of slavery. Afterwards, they lied to their father, causing him to believe Joseph was dead. Thus, they sentenced their father to a life of grief.
All of this behavior serves to teach us the way ill feelings can compound. It is doubtful that the bitter brothers would have banished their younger brother to a life of slavery after only one issue of disagreement with him. But what often happens is that one issue that is not resolved becomes the ingredient that future conflicts are mixed with. With each added bit of envy or anger, the hatred only grows stronger. If the brothers had been diligent in confessing and reconciling with each individual occurrence, it is highly improbable the eventual separation would have ever materialized.
The damaging results of envy, bitterness, and unresolved conflicts are real and they are serious. When we allow resentment or envy to reside in our hearts, it will eventually cause great hurt. It will harm us as well as others. Even small differences, which we might think are unimportant, if they are not dealt with properly, can contribute to very serious problems. All of us have been hurt, or have had things happen to us that we just do not understand. Unresolved conflicts can be the ammunition Satan uses to destroy. The only way to avoid being corrupted by bitterness is to forgive others in the same way our Savior has forgiven us.