Genesis 37:21-22, 29 – And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. 22 And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again… And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.
The tragic scandal of the betrayal of Joseph by his brothers leaves us wringing our hands, scratching our heads, and sick to our stomach. The hatred of these men for their young brother astounds us. Their wicked scheme turned to violent action as they stripped Joseph of his coat and cast him into the pit. Envision the shrieks and screams as Joseph pleads for freedom. Imagine the desperation he felt as his life was jeopardized. And this was just the beginning of a rough road for Joseph.
One voice of reason rang out as Reuben interjected (37:21-22). He managed to convince his brothers to spare Joseph’s life but fell far short of liberating him from the fray. Reuben’s intentions were good (37:22), but his tactics did not achieve much good. The regrets of his failure to provide further help to Joseph would haunt him for the next thirteen years (Genesis 42:22).
Where did it all fall apart? In the words of Mary Poppins, “Well begun is half done.” Reuben began well but lacked follow-through. He saved Joseph’s life but didn’t deliver him from danger. Reuben never addressed the heart of the problem, which was the problem of the heart. He could have promoted and upheld the God-given dignity of his brother, proclaimed the goodness of God to their family, or affirmed the legitimacy of God’s work in Joseph’s life. He could have identified their covetousness and jealousy. He could have avowed his allegiance to God and his family and sought his brothers’ adherence as well.
I know, I know… hindsight is 20/20, and it seems a bit unfair to dissect Reuben’s actions all these years later. He had to make some decisions in the moment, and so do we. Let’s take our lessons from Reuben now so we are prepared. We will act from the platform of our deepest convictions. The voice that shouts the loudest in your heart will be the one you listen to the most.
What should inform our deepest convictions?
-The character of God
-The commandments of Jesus
-The leading of the Spirit
-The sanctification of the Scriptures
-The image of God in all people
How much influence do these factors have in your decisions? How passionately do these “voices” call out to you in your most trying moments? Without allowing these influences to forge deep convictions then you will not have the gumption to take action for righteousness. Take action to make these areas the biggest influences in your life!