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Favoritism and Dysfunctional Families

Favoritism and dysfunctional families are seen in abundance today. There is a story of a bride who brought her new husband to meet her grandmother at a family picnic. The old woman looked the young fellow over carefully and then said to him, “Young man, do you desire to have children?” He was a bit startled by her candid approach but finally replied, “Well, yes, as a matter of fact, I do.” She looked at him scornfully and then surveyed the very large clan of children gathered around half a dozen picnic tables and said, “Well, try to control it!”

Jacob+4 wives +13 children = a very dysfunctional family

Jacob had two wives and two concubines who together gave him thirteen children – twelve sons and a daughter. One wife and the two concubines were forced on him. But his heart belonged to Rachel. Joseph was Rachel’s son. His other wife, Leah (Rachel’s sister) gave him six sons and a daughter. The concubines gave him four sons (two each). Rachel would then go on to have the last son, Benjamin, but then she died in childbirth. This is a very dysfunctional family and brewing within it is favoritism and jealousy.

Favoritism isn’t new to Jacob

Sometimes we look at the patriarchs of the Bible and put them up on a pedestal and forget that they are also humans…just like us. Jacob’s family was dysfunctional. As a result, jealousy between the two wives bred jealousy between the 12 sons. But yet, playing favorites is not new to Jacob. The Bible tells us that Issac loved Esau (Jacob’s brother) while Rebecca love Jacob. More often than not, we tend to parent how we were parented…and instead of learning what favoritism cost him and his brother, Jacob too chooses a favorite … the son of his old age…and the son of his beloved Rachel.

Favoritism breeds jealousy

When the sons of the four concubines got into trouble (Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher), Jacob treated them differently and unequally which stirred up hatred, resentment and jealousy. Reuben, the first born, was the natural heir, but was disqualified because of an illicit relationship with one of his father’s concubines (Gen. 35:22). Simeon and Levi were passed over because of their crime at Shechem (34:25-30). Judah was the fourth son in line to be heir and one might expect that he would be chosen, but Jacob chooses Joseph. The coat of many colors that Jacob made for Joseph, signified Joseph as Jacob’s chosen successor for clan leadership, especially since he was the first born of Rachel, the only woman Jacob had ever intended to marry. This might explain Judah’s active role in the selling of Joseph into slavery.

As time goes by, the rivalry is passed down through their descendants and the two clans of Judah and Ephraim (Joseph’s son) struggle for supremacy and eventually ten of the tribes under the leadership of Ephraim would secede from the nation and create their own nation.

Consequences of favoritism

As parents we need to make sure that we treat all our children the same and refrain from choosing “favorites.” Every child needs to know the love of his/her parent and never feels compared to or unequal to a sibling. The consequences of favoritism not only breeds discontent in the home but is passed down from generation to generation.

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Revive Us Again, Lord

Our nation and our world need to experience a revival. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their land.” Revival begins with the people of God. We invite you to join us in praying for revival for America and our world.

Revive Us Again, Lord
Revive us again, Lord

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