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29th July 2023

The Favourite

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another;

as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

John 13:34

In Genesis 37, we read about Jacob, who gave his son Joseph an ornate coat—an indication to his other children that Joseph was special (v 3). Without a hint of subtlety, the coat’s message shouted: “Joseph is my favourite son.”

Displaying favouritism can be crippling in a family. Jacob’s mother, Rebekah, had favoured him over her son Esau, leading to conflict between the two brothers (25:28). The dysfunction was perpetuated when Jacob favoured his wife Rachel (Joseph’s mother) over his wife Leah, creating discord and heartache (29:30–31). No doubt this pattern was the unhealthy basis for Joseph’s brothers to despise their younger brother, even plotting his murder (37:18).

When Joseph’s story began, he was just seventeen years old (Genesis 37:2), and when he entered into Pharaoh’s service he was thirty (41:46). During the thirteen intervening years, he spent perhaps ten or so in slavery (first as a labourer and then as a household manager) before spending another two to three in prison. Later, following seven years of plenty (41:53), there are two of famine (45:6) before Joseph’s brothers arrive and they reconcile. Imagine, twenty-two years from slavery to reconciliation!

When it comes to our relationships, we may sometimes find it tricky to be objective. We may not be able to help having our favourites. But our goal must be to treat everyone equally and to love every person in our life as our Father loves us (John 13:34).

Bible Reading

Genesis 37:2–4, 17–24.


Loving God, as I interact with others, help me to avoid showing unhealthy preferences. Help me to see others as You do, and to treat everyone fairly and without favouritism. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.



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