The AMI QT devotionals from Jan. 15-21 are provided by Cami King. Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“THE DANGER OF FAVORITISM”
Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan. 2 These are the records of the generations of Jacob. Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father.3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic. 4 His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.
Let’s get to know one another for a moment! What is your favorite color? (Mine is black. Weird, I know.) What is your favorite food? (Mine is steak—medium rare please and thank you!) What is your favorite drink? (Mine is hot tea—I’m really loving all tings oolong these days.) Who is your favorite singer? (Ugh— too tough to choose. I’d have to say a tie between Donny Hathaway, Nina Simone, and Sam Cooke). We all have favorites—things that bring us the most joy, things attached to precious memories from our past, things that speak to us in a special way.
As far as I can tell, most favoritism is fairly innocuous: some things and some people speak to our personality, interests, and experiences in a deeper way than others—and can even be good. Our experiences with God can connect us more deeply to specific people, places, and things (I had a favorite chair because it was where I met with God consistently for years and years). Yet some favoritism can be much more problematic and even toxic. This kind of favoritism can become an avenue for sin and dissension. And that brings us to today’s passage.
Today, we meet Joseph. And the first thing the Bible writer wants us to know about him—other than how young he is— is that he is his father Jacob’s favorite child. If you’ve been journeying with us through Genesis, you’ll remember that Jacob is no stranger to favoritism. He favored one wife over the other (a sentence that makes me queasy as a modern woman), and his parents had favorites between him and his brother Esau—all of which had devastating consequences for the people involved.
While we are all allowed to have favorites, we learn from this family to be careful not to allow favoritism to lead us to sinful partiality, because that harms everyone (both favored and unflavored alike). And if we’re not careful, this kind of partiality can lead us to unintentionally overlook those whom God has entrusted to us and to miss opportunities to be a blessing to them.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, make me aware of any blind spots I have in the area of favoritism. Thank You so much for all the special people and things You’ve given me. Thank You for all my favorites things. Help me to not allow those blessings to become a curse to others in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Numbers 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Romans 2:1-11: Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality.
Questions to Consider
- According to the passage, why is it dangerous for us to pass judgment on others?
- What is the purpose of God’s kindness? How is God’s grace and mercy towards us connected to His judgment?
- What does Paul mean when He says “God shows no partiality”? How is this a comfort to us?
- Are there any people in your life you’ve been judging lately? Re-read the passage above and spend some time in repentance.
- Because we are not impartial, and therefore, we are not qualified to judge. We do the same things as those we judge. Also, when we judge others, we take our eyes off of ourselves and our own shortcomings. We lose sight of God who is the Righteous Judge who will not only judge those who we are judging but will more importantly judge us!
- God’s kindness is given so that we may repent. God’s forbearance with us is a means of grace so that we have the opportunity to see the errors of our ways and the greatness of God’s love toward us, so that we may turn to God and live. Oftentimes, we take God’s kindness as weakness and powerlessness or God’s forbearance as slack in justice or judgment, when instead it is God being merciful toward us and patient with us out of a loving desire not to see us eternally destroyed.
- This statement doesn’t mean that God has no standards. The rest of the passage (and the witness of Scripture as a whole) makes that clear. What it does mean is that God is fair and all who seek Him and seek to do good will receive eternal life, no matter their background.
While we saw the dangers of sinful partiality in favoritism in our passage this morning and learned of the dangers of our own judgments this afternoon, we also know that our favorite things and preferences can point to the specific ways God has blessed us. Spend some time reflecting on some of your favorite things, relationships, memories and experiences. Why are those things your favorites? In light of your list, spend time thanking God for the special and particular ways He has blessed you.