In Japan, the divorce rate is way lower than it is in the States. However, the number is going up. I read a while back that divorces by people in their 60s are on the way up, especially since a law was passed that allowed for a more equal divvying up of the pensions. Apparently, in a lot of households, husbands and wives aren’t really communicating much, and the relationships just aren’t going well. As a result, the wives are dreading the day when their husbands retire and will be home all the time. So, after their husbands retire, the wives file for divorce.
I suppose that’s better than the story of another woman that I read about. She said that she’s deliberately feeding her husband a lot of greasy foods in the hope that he dies early. It’s pretty sad, but from what I’ve seen of some husbands, they haven’t been treating their wives very well either, and that’s partly why all of this is happening. I mentioned in an earlier blog a man that loves fishing so much that he’d rather do that than spend time with his family. And whenever his wife complains, he just ignores her and goes off anyway. His attitude towards his wife and children just strikes me as so cold. I can’t believe there are people out there like that.
Well, Joseph’s brothers were also pretty cold. After years of jealousy towards their brother, they see him coming out to them, and decide to kill him. Reuben manages to keep them from doing that, but it seems he’s more worried about his own hide than the safety of Joseph. As the oldest son, Reuben knew he would be held responsible by his father. So he convinced them to just throw Joseph into a cistern, with the idea of rescuing him later.
Reuben then goes off somewhere, and Joseph is pleading with his brother to let him out, but they just ignore him, and perhaps even laugh at him. Then, a bunch of merchants pass by, and Judah gets the bright idea of selling Joseph off as a slave. Not only do they get rid of him, but they get paid to do so. Again Joseph pleads with them not to do that to him, but they shut their ears to his pleas and send him off.
They then dip his coat in blood and take it to their father and cold-heartedly let him assume the worst about Joseph. Jacob weeps for days on end, and while they attempt to comfort him, no one even considers going to try and get Joseph back.
Jesus said that in the last days, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of many will grow cold.” Matthew 24:12
How does love grow cold? Selfishness is one reason. We start putting our own desires and needs above others, and as we do, not only does our own love grow cold, but their love grows cold too. My student’s relationships with his wife and his daughters are in danger, but the real danger comes when his wife and daughters stop saying anything at all. At that point, the heat of anger is gone, their hearts have become numb to the pain he’s caused them, and all that’s left are cold hearts that don’t care anymore.
Jealousy is another reason. Instead of being happy at another person’s good fortune, we allow our jealousy to put a wall between us. Often times, the other person doesn’t even know what happened. All they know is that something happened to the relationship, and that something is seriously wrong. That happened between Joseph and his brothers. You also see it later in the relationship between Saul and David. (I Samuel 18-19).
Anger and unforgiveness, whether deserved or not, are two more things that can cause our hearts to grow cold. Someone wrongs us or hurts us, and we hold our anger inside. The anger then leads to bitterness towards that person. And bitterness can lead to hatred. You see that in Joseph’s brothers. Anger at the special treatment Jacob gave Joseph (very bad judgment on Jacob’s part). Bitterness that they couldn’t receive the same kind of love from their father. And as a result, hatred toward their brother. All of that showed in their coldness to their brother’s pleas for mercy.
How about you? Are you allowing your hearts to become cold towards the people in your life? Towards your husband? Towards your wife? Towards your children? Towards the people at work? Towards the people at church?
All of that grieves the God who sent his Son because of his love for you and them. It says in Ephesians 4:30-32,
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.
Lord I see the love of many around me growing cold. Don’t let my heart grow cold as well. Keep selfishness, jealousy, anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness far from me and my relationships. Let me not grieve you with the way I treat my family and the people around me, but let me always have a heart that keeps my relationships alive and warm with your love. In Jesus name, amen.