Aren’t we supposed to seek opportunities to share what the Lord is doing in our lives? Psalms 105:1 encourages us to,
“Give thanks to Jehovah, call upon His name; make known among the peoples
Multiple times in Psalm 107, the Psalmist implores,
“Oh that men would praise Jehovah for His lovingkindness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!”
The answer to the above question is…yes and no. Who is your audience? Will others come away from your proclamation with an emphasis on you…how the Lord is blessing YOU and using YOU or will the Lord be showcased…His work, His goodness…and you humbly blown away by the fact He’s using you?
Genesis 37:5-8 recounts:
“Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. Please hear this dream which I have dreamed. ‘There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf’. And his brothers said to him, ‘Shall you indeed reign over us? Shall you indeed have dominion over us’? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.”
Who is at the center of attention in Joseph’s broadcast? Joseph was no stranger to being the center of attention. Genesis 37:2-4 provides the backdrop for this scene:
“…Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers [Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher]…and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father. Now Israel [Jacob] loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age…When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.”
Entitled. Tattle-tale. Spoiled brat. Goody-goody. Self-righteous. It seems these words portray Joseph’s brother’s opinions of him. Whether his brother’s opinions were accurate portrayals of Joseph at that time or not, it would have been no secret to Joseph, the impression his brothers had of him. How did he think that sharing this revelation would improve an already damaged relationship?
Imperceptive. Tactless. Inconsiderate. Insensitive. Indiscreet. Could these words apply to a situation when you are sharing a revelation from God? A blessing from God? The works of God accomplished by you? Proverbs 27:2 and Proverbs 21:23 offer the following advice,
“Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”
“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.”
Paul counsels us in Colossians 4:6 to,
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt…”
After sharing his dream, Joseph’s brothers “hated him even more”…not the usual after-effect of speech that is full of grace, seasoned with salt.
You’d have thought Joseph would have picked up on the reactionary cues of his audience after the first occurrence; however, Genesis 37:9 informs us otherwise:
“Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, ‘Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me’.”
Perhaps Joseph was so excited about these dreams that he couldn’t contain himself (Afterall, he couldn’t call or text a friend, post this miraculous occurrence on Facebook, or take a selfie with a crown edited onto his head and post on Instagram.). Sometimes, God reveals things to us, that don’t need to be revealed to others…He’ll reveal them in His time and in His way. The wise person recognizes that,
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…a time to keep silence and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b)
Based on his brother’s response to his first revelation, Joseph would have known that his brothers were not an appropriate audience for this second dream occurrence. We are encouraged by Paul in Romans 12:18,
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
While there are those people, whom no matter how hard we try, we cannot win their favor or respect, we need to be mindful of not adding ‘fuel to the fire’. This second revelation of Joseph’s evoked a rebuke from his father (Genesis 37:10) and invoked feelings of envy within his brothers. Neither are characteristic reactions to “a word fitly spoken”, which according to Proverbs 25:11, is “like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
I doubt that the finish of this conversation between Joseph, his father, and brothers elicited the joy spoken of in Proverbs 15:23,
“A man has joy by the answer of his mouth; and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!”
The completion of each conversation that we engage in, will leave us feeling either one of two ways: joyful and confident that we said the right words at the right time or confused and uncertain of our chosen timing and wording. Timing is just as important as wording. In I Peter 5:6, we are instructed to,
“Humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt us in due time.”
Apparently, Joseph learned his lesson…life had humbled him. In Genesis 45:4-8, 14-15, we witness a marvelous proclamation and revelation that elicited joy and a love that had never before been expressed to such a degree, among Joseph and his brothers:
“And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come near me’. So, they came near. Then he said, ‘I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt’. Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him.”
God, not Joseph, was highlighted and glorified in this declaration, as Joseph’s brothers clearly saw God’s work that had come to fruition through Joseph. Some revelations and blessings are best kept to ourselves…contained…until God, in His time, is ready to set His plan for us in motion and place us in our position. When God’s work is in operation, others do…and will, notice. God will provide the opportunity for us to give Him the glory and testify of His goodness to others.
There will be times when others may not agree with, or like, what we say, but when we are speaking the Lord’s words in the Lord’s time, He will be preeminent, not ourselves. If others react in a hostile manner, let it be because they are hostile against the God we are serving, representing, and glorifying, not hostile against us because we are piously placing ourselves on a self-righteous pedestal. (Ezekiel 3:4, 7-11; Acts 7:51-60)
To share or not to share? That is the question. Before sharing what God has revealed to you, given to you, or how He intends to use you, let John 3:30 be your deciding factor,
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
If you appear front and center of your declaration, with God playing your supportive role, that is when NOT to share your blessings.