When we study the story of Joseph, we discover how God does not waste pain. Romans 8:28 tells us, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” That means your pain as well.
Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the son 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 him 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.
Joseph’s dad was named Jacob. Jacob fell in love with Rachel, the woman of his dreams, when he was a young man. He made a deal with Laban (Rachel’s dad) that he’d work seven years for her hand in marriage. The only problem was that when the seven years were up, Rachel’s dad didn’t give her as the bride but secretly gave her sister Leah. Once Jacob realized what happened, Rachel was given to Jacob as a second wife, but only if he would work another seven years.
So here we are years later, and Rachel is still Jacob’s favorite wife. Her son was Joseph, and he immediately became his dad’s favorite son. His half-brothers knew they were not their dad’s favorite, and it caused jealousy between them. It didn’t help that Jacob got a fancy robe from his dad that none of the other brothers got. At that time, everyone wore tunics for function, not for fashion. A tunic would be about knee-high and sleeveless. There wasn’t anything fancy about them because they would have been worn while tending sheep and working in the dirt and sun.
On the other hand, Joseph’s robe could be spotted far away. It was an obnoxious robe to the brothers and a constant reminder that their dad loved him more than them. Not only was Joseph’s robe obnoxious, but so was Joseph. He came out to check on their work and report it back to their dad. No one likes a tattletale nowadays, and they didn’t like it then, either.
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
After hearing Joseph bragging about his two dreams, the brothers were done. They wanted him dead. They made up their mind to kill their brother. They quickly devised a plan the next time they saw Joseph coming over the hillside. They decided they couldn’t take one more day of listening to their arrogant little brother. If he’s coming to spy on them again for their dad and tell them about another dream where they end up as his servants, that will be his end.
Genesis 37:19-20, 23-28
“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 dream.”
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.
As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up from the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
Do you think 20 shekels of silver is a good amount for a 17-year-old slave? Biblical historians researched the value of silver shekels at that time. It turns out that 20 silver shekels would buy you a slave with a broken leg or a missing eye. It would have been the discounted price for someone that was damaged. So Joseph’s brothers selling him at this price added shame on top of pain.
This is not the end of Joseph’s story but just the beginning. Even though this may seem like all hope is lost for Joseph, we know God does not waste pain. Like Drake says, ” I started at the bottom, now I am here!” Joseph started at the bottom of a well, and that was really the beginning of his journey. He came out of that well and was sold into slavery. That, too, is the beginning of his story.
Before starting your journey with God, you’ve got to have a humble beginning. You have to start at the bottom, where you realize that nothing else is more important. You’ve got to get the perspective from your knees looking up to the light. One of my friends the other day tried to offend me by saying, “Your Jesus is just a crutch.” My response was, “Bruh, Jesus is way more than a crutch. He’s the Rock on which I stand. He’s everything to me. I don’t need a crutch; I need a foundation to build my life on.”
Joseph’s brother saw something in Joseph that they couldn’t get over. Joseph had an arrogance about him that put them over the edge. There’s something about arrogance that’s tricky because sometimes we’re attracted to it. For example, if you watch UFC or boxing, a weigh-in moment tells us a lot about how the fight will go. One fighter will come in with fancy clothes and show off to everyone in the room. That first fighter is making eye contact with everyone. The second fighter comes in and doesn’t look at anyone else but mad dogs, the first fighter. There is an awkward stare that is intense. There isn’t the first fighter’s arrogance but undeniable confidence. I know right there who I’d put my money on.
Arrogance is the way you see yourself.
Confidence is the way God sees you.
We often think arrogance and confidence are the same things, but it’s not. We also mistake humility as being the opposite of arrogance. Humility is more than the opposite of arrogance. At its very core, humility is the rock bottom where we all start. There is no greater attribute or characteristic for a follower of Jesus than being humble. That’s where our love flows from. Think of all the love given to us; then, we can extend that to the world.
God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.
When you are humble, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not confident. I say that the opposite of arrogance is not just humility but it’s a confident humility. Confident humility is knowing who you are because you truly trust what God has said about you. You know who you are because your life is not defined by what you have done for yourself. It’s defined by what has been done for you, through the person and the work of Jesus. There’s humbleness and confidence about you. That confidence scares the devil and a dark world that’s insecure. I’m gonna tell you, that’s what attracts people. Humility is not walking with your head hanging down low but walking in the assurance that you know who God says you are. Do you know who God’s Word says you are?
No weapon turned against you will succeed.
Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
1 John 4:4
The Spirt who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
If you can, just grasp for a minute how He sees you. You are loved, valued, and of great worth to Him. You catch that, and you’re going to walk with confidence that’s not arrogant. It won’t be sticky, gross arrogance like Joseph, but instead with steadfast stability like Jesus. That’s what we want to be, right? We want to be like Jesus.
3 Characteristics of Arrogance:
The number one symptom of arrogance is comparison. It’s easy to start looking at what other people have and comparing them to what we don’t have. Maybe their life looks perfect, or they just got a new house, and you’re still stuck in an apartment. They could have a growing savings account, and you still live paycheck to paycheck. We wind up scrolling through everyone’s social media pages and start feeling inadequate. I tell you right now that comparison is the thief to joy. Once you begin to compare yourself to somebody else, you’re not as grateful for what you do have.
Comparison is not just a thief to joy. It’s a thief to your purpose. Once you start comparing yourself to where somebody else is in life, you start thinking, “I want to have that. I want to be like them.” Then you start making their life the target or the aim. Jesus wants you to look at Him. Stop looking at everyone else’s life plan. He has made you unique for the plan He has for you. Don’t compare yourself to somebody else’s plan. God’s not interested in blessing you to be like somebody else. He wants to bless the true plan for your life. If you compare yourself to somebody else, it’s actually arrogance. You cannot be grateful for what you have and simultaneously envious of somebody else.
The most grateful day of Joseph’s life was the same day he got his special jacket stolen from him. It was the day that he found out, “I’m not going to die at the bottom of this well. I’m going to be pulled out of this well.” Now that might not sound like a great day, but for him, he was on his knees, begging that his brothers wouldn’t kill him. So the day he didn’t die but instead got pulled out of the well and sold would’ve been the most grateful moment of his life. Do you have that kind of perspective where you can say, “Hey, at least I’m not dead? Maybe I’m not where I want to be, but at least I’m not where
I used to be.”
I live in a generation where it’s okay for people to promote themselves constantly. Is there anything less like Jesus than being a self-promoter?
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Jesus tells us that his job exists to help others that can’t help themselves. He was not here to help himself but instead to help people that can’t help themselves. Arrogance will make you a self-promoter, but confidence in Christ will make you a promoter of others. Isn’t that the kind of person you want to be? It’s time to take your attention off yourself and switch it to helping others.
God wants us to live securely and confidently so that we can get the attention off of us and on the people who need it. They are the people who need to know the gospel. The thing is, you can’t look out for yourself and look out for others at the same time. It just doesn’t work when you try to do that. Its false humility is also gross.
3. Easily Offended
An easy way to identify if someone is arrogant is if they are easily offended. When you are offended by something, often that is a manifestation of your pride and insecurity. We live in a world where it’s okay to take offense. Do you think Jesus Christ had time to be offended by people?
I did a Google search for “What’s the opposite of easily offended?” The results said, “Unshakable.” I want that! I don’t want to be easily offended, but instead, the hardest person in the room to offend. I want to be so confident in who God says I am that what the world says about me bounces right off. Each year, God is building confidence in me, making me stronger. It is also making me harder and harder to offend because I know who I am in Christ.
The more I study the life of Jesus and how he handled difficult situations, the more I want to be like Him. I can’t think of even one time Jesus took offense to something. There’s not even one account where somebody got under his skin that he got passive-aggressive and gossiped about them. I see Jesus refusing to defend himself, knowing he has a Father who loves him and will defend him as needed. One time, Jesus is on his knees and has been beaten up by Roman guards. His arms are tied behind his back, flogging him while blindfolded. Pilate was walking back and forth, saying, “I’m going to release Barabbas, and the people who recently celebrated you are now chanting, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’” Pilate was mocking Jesus and reminding him that everyone had turned their back on him. He continues to taunt Jesus, saying, “Come on, just tell me if you are the King of the Jews. Are you who you say you are?” Jesus had every right to be defensive and to set Pilate in his place, but instead, Jesus said nothing. He didn’t need to. He didn’t feel like he needed to defend himself because he knew he had a heavenly father.
Recently my son came home from school, and somebody had made fun of him. I talked to him and said, “Son, you know I always teach you about guarding your heart. But son, I need to teach you to guard your heart against what people say.” I told him to repeat this saying, “Thick skin, soft heart.” You’ve got to have thick skin, so you’re not easily offended. Developing a thick skin results from being more confident in knowing how much God loves you. When you believe what he says about you, you’re not an easily offended person. You’re an unshakeable person. You’re a confident person with a soft heart ready to show grace to others even on their bad days. Stay humble and not easily offended.
Let’s remember that we’re nothing without God. Like Joseph, we’re the bottom of the well people standing on the Rock. While we continue to follow Joseph’s life, you’ll see that eventually, he will be at the very top of the top, but he’s still at the bottom of the bottom simultaneously. His humble confidence takes them to the top because he understands God’s greatness for his life.