“So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing…” -Genesis 37:23
If you’re familiar with the Joseph story, it’s not too hard to read between the lines and see that he was probably pretty proud of being the favorite. When he tells the family of his mysterious dreams, it’s not too hard to imagine just a hint of a smug smile on his young face. After all, aren’t we all a little too self-assure as youth? When he goes to find his brothers on their sojurn, it’s not too hard to picture him there, riding his mount across the field with his robe shining in the middle-eastern sun, announcing with his garment, “Father loves me the most!”
Indeed, the robe was the symbol of the father’s favor.
How sad, then, that his brothers turned on him so violently, that they not only harmed him, but took the object that symbolized the father’s favor and tore it to pieces.
So much for the father’s favor.
What about us? What about that thing that we hold on to as the symbol of our Father’s favor, the proof that God loves us? Could it be that when we place our focus on the favor, rather than the Father, it’s only a matter of time before it’s taken away?
If this is true, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Doesn’t Scripture speak of God’s unmerited favor for His children, of His undeserved grace? Why would God, HOW could God take His favor away from those He loves? Why remove favor that was already undeserved? Do we “undeserve” it less and therefore He takes it?
Not at all!
Think of it this way… One of the worst things a parent can do to their child is allow them to hold on to something they want, but that will destroy them. When the blessings of God cause us to become proud or boastful or to find our joy in a thing rather than in Him, He loves so much that He may remove the source of our temptation. “Lead us not into temptation” doesn’t always mean, “keep me away from the bad stuff”. For some of us it may mean, “don’t let the good stuff distract me from You.”
Here’s the thing though. If Joseph had been able to keep his “beautiful robe” that he loved so much, if he had been spared the hardship of kidnap and slavery and prison and shame, he would have settled for far less blessing in the end. By continuing to seek and follow and honor God even after the “favor” had seemingly been removed, Joseph became the kind of man who was able to handle far greater blessings down the road.
It turns out, God didn’t take away His favor at all. He just dressed it in a different robe.