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Playing Favorites, Genesis 37:3-4

July 5, 2013

Jacob’s favoritism to Joseph makes my blood boil.  How can anyone treat one child special; to the detriment of other children in the family, and relationships between children?  It sets up hard feelings and imbalances the family.  It doesn’t often end with the favored child as a prince who protects the others; forgiveness and reconciliation and everyone living in peace and prosperity.

A small child comes to my house every day.  From our first meeting, he offered to help me clean.  I imagined he was eager to get paid.  It felt pushy, but “at least he had good initiative and connected work to pay.”  I was warned to be wary of offers, especially to watch this child, who likes to “pick up and touch things.”  I waited, other children are often with him, and I didn’t want to play favorites.

I don’t give him things to do, but he jumps in to do things for me.  He offers to share things with me; a treasured piece of candy.  Funny thing, he never asks for money.  He asks for a piece of bread or fruit.  I began keeping food “put away” because his “begging” seemed habitual.  I imagined he was growing, a “bottomless pit,” an appetite you cannot keep up with.

Yesterday he asked again for bread.  “Didn’t your family just have lunch?”  He said yes, but he did not get any; he was sleeping and when he woke there was nothing left in the pot.  I remembered his father was deathly ill for months and just returned to the fields.  He is also always in bare feet or sandals, no socks.  One cold day I asked, “Where are your socks?”  “They are dirty.”  The socks he wears with his school uniform are his only pair.

Human nature bonds us with our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, children in our church.  But God calls us to be responsible for all children in God’s family; every hungry and cold child.  Justice does not allow favorites; it is detrimental to other children, and relationships between children.  It sets up hard feelings and imbalances for generations.  The favored child rarely becomes a prince and protects the others.  Favoritism stands in the way of forgiveness and reconciliation and everyone living in peace and prosperity.  May God empower us to act in love beyond our favorites.

Rev. Dr. Loletta Barrett, serves with the Namibia Synod of the UCCSA in  Kalkveld,  Namibia.  She serves as a pastor.


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