Saturday, January 09, 2010

Is It Tattling?

Last Sunday in Bible class, we were starting the story of Joseph (in Genesis). Pastor pointed out that it was not "tattling" when Joseph reported to his father that the brothers were being irresponsible in their shepherding. Joseph goes to the authorities as he ought to do, rather than trying to deal with it himself and usurp his father's authority.

Story proceeds. Joseph is sold into slavery. Joseph is put in charge of Potiphar's estate. Potiphar's wife tries to seduce Joseph. Potiphar's wife makes a fake claim that Joseph raped her. Joseph does not report what happened; he covers her sin.

I was sitting next to Grace and Kyle. Grace asked why the two incidents were different. Why was it not okay for Joseph to "go to the authorities" about the false charges? Pastor explained, but I didn't understand. Neither did Grace. So after class, she asked again.

Part of Pastor's answer was that Joseph's brothers were within the Church, and Potiphar's wife was not. Those within the Church need to be called to repentance when they sin; they need to be restored. Those outside the Church have nothing to be called back to; perhaps she needed to be won by grace and mercy.

Another aspect of the answer was "What was to be gained by going to the authorities?" When Joseph told his father about his brothers' irresponsibility, it was in hopes of bringing them to repentance (and not just for sloughing off, but for their unbelief and impenitence). When Joseph told his dad, it certainly was not a self-serving action; it just got him in more trouble with the brothers and sold into slavery. What if Joseph had told Potiphar what really happened that day? It would not have been to rescue Potiphar's wife, but "telling" would have been entirely self-serving as Joseph tried to save his own hide. Joseph kept on looking like Jesus as he/He continued to act in ways that benefited the neighbor even when it was detrimental to him/Himself.

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