Sermon:  Frenemy Fever


Summary:  Joseph's response to his brother's wrongs against him is an example of how to keep the fires of resentment and hate from coming between you and God and turning your life to ashes.  God's desire is that we learn to have a forgiving heart as Jesus demonstrated for us.


Text:  Gen 37-50


Scripture Reading:  Eph 4:31 - 5:2



1.  Everyone probably knows what a compound word is

            a.  Examples:  crosswalk, skateboard, earthquake

            b.  Unusual ones:  Blacklight, Rap Music - opposites in a word

            c.  What happens when you put Friend and Enemy together?

            d.  The word is "Frenemy"

2.  If you haven't heard "Frenemy" it is an actual word

            a.  Urban dictionary:  "Someone who is both a friend and an enemy.  A

                 relationship that is both mutually beneficial or dependent while being

                 competitive, fraught with risk and mistrust.  In short, it is an enemy that

                 is a friend

            b.  There is a website devoted to frenemies, and even a movie called


            c.  May think of characters like Batman and Catwoman, Tom and Jerry,

                 Will Schuster and Sue Sylvester

            d.  Businessweek says frenemies in the workplace are common

                        - You may have some you work with

3.  Did you know the Bible has frenemies?

            a.  Cain/Able, Abram/Lot, Sarah/Hagar, Jacob/Laban, Joseph/Brothers

            b.  Interesting - They are all related, they are family

            c.  Someone said Genesis is a book about dysfunctional families

                        - But when you think about it, everyone is dysfunctional, due to sin

                        - But families seem to breed frenemies

4.  Frenemy issue prominent at the end of Genesis in story of Joseph


I.  Joseph's Brothers were Frenemies (Gen 37:2-11)

            A.  It isn't difficult to see why Joseph's brother's despised him

            B.  Look at what happened

                        1.  v.2 - Joseph tattled on his brothers

                        2.  v.3 - Joseph was Dad's favorite son, and everyone knew it

                        3.  v.4 - Dad made him a special outfit, no one else got one

                        4.  v.5-8 - Joseph dreamed he would be greater than brothers

                        5.  v.9-11 - Joseph dreamed he would be greater again

                                    a.  How do you think Jacob reacted?

                                    b.  Not like brothers, Joseph his favorite

                                    c.  Probably thought it was cute

                                    d.  Text says he kept the saying in mind

            C.  You ever felt unappreciated, overlooked, feel treated like mud?

                        1.  Maybe at the workplace, maybe in your family

                        2.  That favorite person can do no wrong, & you never measure up

            D.  That doesn't come close to what Joseph's brothers feeling . . .


II.  The Last Straw (Gen 37:12-36)

            A.  Jacob has Joseph to check up on his brothers. 

            B.  They see him coming, all of that resentment seething to the surface

                        1.  They were going to kill him and say animal devoured him

                        2.  Reuben, the oldest, convinced them to cast him in pit

                        3.  While eating, see caravan of traders, then get idea for profit

                                    a.  We can't kill him, he is our flesh

                                    b.  So let's trade him for profit instead

                                    c.  There is that frenemy factor at work

                                                - They recognized that Joseph was their flesh

                                                - At the same time, they hated him

                                    d. So they sell him to some Midianite traders as a slaved

                        4.  Reuben came back and tore his clothes

                                    a.  How is he going to face his father?

                                    b.  They took that special tunic, covered it in blood

                                    c.  Showed it to Dad - Mourned, cried, something in him died

            C.  Can you imagine the feeling the brother's had seeing father mourn

                        1.  They tried to console him, but could do nothing

                        2.  They tried to knock Joseph down to elevate their own status

                                    a.  However, it seems to have backfired

                                    b.  They wronged their brother

                                    c.  They broke their father's heart

                        3.  This is the nature of resentment, competitiveness, and hate

                                    a.  It can feel so good when you act on it

                                    b.  The aftermath is dark, gloomy, cold

                                    c.  When the exhilaration dissipates, after fast burn, you

                                         have ashes

            D.  Hate directed at the wrong think is ungodly and corrosive

                        1.  (Heb 1:9) - You loved righteousness and hated lawlessness

                                    a.  Our Lord hated, but hated the right thing - sin

                                    b.  Lord loved righteousness, harmony, goodness, kindness

                                    c.  Our Lord didn't hate people

                                                - Jn 3:16 - God so loved the world he gave his son

                                                - 1 Jn 4:8 - God is love

                                                - Mt 5:44 - That's why Jesus says love enemies

                        2.  (1 Jn 3:15) - Everyone who hates his brother is murderer

                                    a.  No murderer has eternal life abiding in him

                                    b.  Hate comes between you and God!

                                    c.  This is pretty serious

                        3.  So we can just let it be.  How do you deal with resentment


III.  Joseph gets a chance at revenge

            A.  Joseph's life one series of misfortune after another as a slave

                        1.  Every time he seemed to have success, knocked down again

                        2.  On top of that, he is alone, no family

                        3.  But in the end, Joseph saved Egypt from impending famine

                        4.  God revealed famine is coming, so Joseph directed them to

                              stockpile grain

            B.  (Gen 42:1-8) - Can you imagine this moment?

                        1.  Hollywood could make action movie.  Joseph's revenge

                        2.  Look at suspense - Joseph accuses them of being spies

                                    a.  They tried to convince him they were honest

                                    b.  Told about family, 12 brothers, one dead, one at home

                                    c.  So Joseph throws them in prison for 3 days

                                    d.  After three days, has plan to verify their truthfulness

                                                - One brother stay behind, go home get youngest

                                                - Then he know they are truthful

                                                - In Hebrew, said they paying for sin against Joseph

                                                - Bound Simeon, sent them home with money in sack

                        3.  Told Jacob, he refused to send Benjamin (v.36)

                        4.  Ran out of food, had to go back to Egypt

                                    a.  Sons said, not unless take Benjamin

                                    b.  Father agreed, sent gifts, double the money

                                    c.  Came back treated as honored guests, meal with Joseph

                                    d.  Sent on way with grain, money, and silver cup

                                                - Went after them, accuse of stealing

                                                - Searched, found cup in Benjamin's sack

                                                - Joseph said they could go, Benjamin be his slave

                                                - Judah intercedes, asked to keep him, said father's

                                                  life was bound up with the child

            C.  Finally - Joseph reveals his identity - "I am Joseph!  Your brother!"

                        1.  Then he ran them over with his chariot!  No, that didn't happen

                        2.  (Gen 45:3-12) - Joseph forgives them

                                    a.  Joseph realizes that God has been at work all along

                                                - Chain of events led to being saved from famine

                                                - His family might have starved if not for this

                                    b.  Joseph went a step further, he invited them home

                                    c.  He went a step further, he provided for them

                        3.  We learn later that his forgiveness was genuine

                                    a.  Brothers were worried when father died, Joseph would


                                    b.  But Joseph's forgiveness was not an act

                        4.  (Gen 50:19-21) - Joseph still provides for them after father died

            D.  The fires of hatred could have consumed Josephs' life, left ashes

                        1.  But instead, there ended up life, peace, and joy

                        2.  This winds up being a very positive story in the end



1.  Only thing that can extinguish the fires of hate and resentment is forgiveness

2.  ILL:  Valerie when mother in hospital, she was close to mother, lived together

            a.  Her father showed up, her and siblings appalled.

                        - Growing up, the father was abusive to mother

                        - All kinds of old hurts, wounds, resentment, hate came out

            b.  Strangely enough, the mother didn't seem to have any hate

            c.  Val came to me - Jesus said if not forgive, God not forgive

            d.  How do I forgive?  I know I have to, but I don't know how!

                        - Do like Joseph did

                        - Can say it like Joseph did

                        - Can show it like Joseph did

3.  ILL:  Aftermath?

            a.  She forgave her father, and it was genuine

            b.  Started to care for him, especially when in nursing home

            c.  At funeral, she mourned him. 

                        - Wrote poem about all years lost, but grateful for the time they had

                          in the end

                        - Siblings were still mired in hate - glad he was dead, but got no

                           comfort.  Resentment still eating away at them

            d.  Val on the other hand had changed

                        - Peace and joy both were multiplied in her life

                        - She had been seriously overweight, but lost weight

                        - Became healthier, physically, emotionally, and spiritually

4.  Consider the words of Jesus

            a.  Said to pray - Father, forgive us out debts as we forgive our debtors

            b.  Jesus not asking us to do anything he didn't do himself

            c.  Jesus died on the cross to procure forgiveness for us (inv)

            d.  Remember that as he forgave, so we should forgive as well