Man, I am excited about hearing the Word of God myself. Because every time I prepare, I think the Lord has to convict me before I talk to others. Anyway…
We are glad that you’re here. Isn’t this fog crazy? It’s like driving through soup! But you know what? God has brought all of us here for a reason, and that’s the cool thing.
I’ve been talking about betrayal lately, and what’s been fascinating about this subject is it’s been very easy for all of us—myself included—to point to times in my life where someone has betrayed me. I mean, that’s easy. Think about it. That’s a layup. That doesn’t take much work, “He betrayed me. She betrayed me.”
As we look back on the trail of our lives, we can point out the situations where someone pushed us in the pit of betrayal. We can all identify that. We like to do that. It is cool to do that.
Well, in today’s talk I’m going to kind of flip the whole thing. Today, I’m not going to talk to those of us who have been betrayed. I’m going to talk to the betrayers in the house.
Now before I go any further, all of us are betrayers. Don’t act like you’re not. We’ve all betrayed our loving God because of our behavior. The Bible calls it sin. But I’m going to kind of take betrayal to another level, a different zone.
I’m going to talk to those of us here who’ve turned on people that have trusted us. I’m going to talk to those of us here who have stabbed, and who have kind of left people out to dry, and who have messed people around, and who have stolen and who have hurt. I’m talking to the betrayers in the house.
What’s so crazy about the betrayers in the house is the fact that if you are a betrayer—most betrayers don’t realize they are betrayers. Now, I realize that I’ve been betrayed. But I have a hard time pointing to times in my life where I have betrayed. Isn’t that unique? That’s really funny; that’s really interesting.
You might be saying, “Well Ed, am I someone who has betrayed another?” Well, look back just for a second in the rearview mirror of your life. Look back over the course of your life. If you’ve seen
relationship after relationship kind of end up in the deep weeds, if you have seen your former friends or maybe a spouse or a kid or a business partner kind of in the pit of betrayal, and the common denominator is you, well chances are you’re a betrayer.
I mean, it might be you. Have you ever thought about that? Maybe you are the betrayer. What does it mean when I betray someone? When I betray someone I am in a relationship where someone trusts me then I turn on them. Your enemies cannot betray you. Did you get that? My enemy or your enemy can’t betray you. Only those who are close to us can betray us. So are you the betrayer?
Today we’re going to talk about Joseph as we’ve been talking about over the past several sessions. Joseph is a guy in the Old Testament who is very, very familiar with betrayal. In fact, his brothers betrayed him. And if you do a little study of his life, Joseph grew up in a highly dysfunctional family.
He could have easily played the crazy family card. There is no way there is any family here as crazy as Joseph’s family. One father, four wives, twelve sons, one daughter—you name a sin, it occurred in Joseph’s family.
Well, Joseph’s father made a big mistake. He showed favoritism to Joseph, bought him this beautiful designer robe, and his brothers didn’t dig it.
His brothers saw the robe and the favoritism, and at a critical juncture in Joseph’s life, they pushed him in a pit. They betrayed him. They thought about killing him. Yet, cooler heads prevailed.
Then they sold him into Egyptian slavery. Isn’t that sad? Yet name any family here, and most families deal with favoritism on one level or another. Have you noticed that? “Well, he got so-and-so…well you’re treating him different—” Favoritism happens. I mean, you’re going to have those feelings of, “Wow, they got something that I didn’t get.” And we see people who are blessed or people who have this or that, and we can become jealous and envious of them.
So just for a second I want all of us to put ourselves in the sandals of Joseph’s brothers because Joseph’s brothers were betrayers. And here’s the deal. Here’s where I’m going today: If we don’t break the back of betrayal, betrayal will break us.
So let’s just for a second think about Joseph’s brothers. Joseph’s brothers obviously thought they had been betrayed by their father. After all, their father showed all the love to Joseph. And Joseph walked around as a teenager bragging about his leadership abilities, bragging about his status, bragging that one day the brothers would bow down to him.
Now that was not smart for a young kid to do that, but let’s cut Joe some slack, he was a teenager. You know how teenagers are, how students are. They say things. We have all said things during those ages that we would like to take back. Well, Joseph was the same way.
The brothers heard that, and they pushed him into a pit. But first, before they betrayed him, you know what they did? They eyed him. They looked at Joseph with the eye of envy. Envy usually occurs before betrayal. The brothers, sadly, were not looking to God for their props. They were not looking and concentrating on God’s irrational, unfathomable love. And we can mess up in this realm.
We get so concerned about, “Well, how much do I love God? I love God, and I need to love God more.” And that’s fine and dandy, but we need to concentrate on how much God loves us. See, there is a difference. We can say, “I need to love God more. I need to do this and that.” And that’s cool. But think about how much your heavenly father loves you.
Because when we think about that, it will take our eyes off of others, and that will not allow envy to eat our lunch. Yet, when you’re envious of someone, it starts in the eyes. The eye of envy. And Joseph’s brothers were envious of him.
Envy is against blessings. That’s what envy is. Envy doesn’t like blessings, especially if the blessings fall on someone else. In the first book I ever wrote, I did a whole chapter on envy. Envy is a unique sin. For example, envy starts out ugly and ends ugly. It starts out U‑G‑L‑Y, you ain’t got no alibi, ugly. It ends U‑G‑L‑Y, you ain’t got no alibi, ugly.
The other sins start off with some promise. The other sins start off with some fun. Like pride, “I’m the man. I’m the woman.” It feels good for a while then, though, it gets ugly.
Greed. When greed starts off it is pretty fun, “I will acquire that. I will buy that. I will get that.” And it gives us fast temporary relief from the aches and pains of life, “I can buy that, and acquire that, and have that, and I collect all of the toys,” but after a while even greed gets ugly.
How about lust? Lust starts off fun, “Girl, did you—” “Man, look at her.” All the bells and whistles, ding, ding, ding, ding. Lust starts off fun but it ends ugly. And many here are thinking, “Yes, Ed. I know what you’re talking about.”
Envy, though, think about it. When I’m envious of someone, when I’m envious of the Joseph in my life, I’m sad over his successes, and I’m glad over his failures. That’s envy. If we don’t check envy, if we don’t confess envy, if we don’t get right quick, it will lead us to push people that trust us into the pit. That’s what Joseph’s brothers did. Envy, it gets in us. The eye of envy. We can get green with envy. That’s the color of it, this grotesque figure, envy.
Well, here is what is so sinister and what is so insidious about envy and betrayal: Once we betray someone, the Joseph in our lives—and it could be a spouse, it could be a son, it could be a daughter, it could be a business partner, it could be a friend, it could be a teammate, it could be a coach, it could be a teacher, it could be a pastor, it could be anyone. Once we push them into the pit, we think they’re in the pit and we’re not.
Even though we’re the betrayers, we think, “Okay I have pushed this person into the pit. I’m out of the pit. They’re in the pit.” Well, that’s not true. Betrayers don’t realize it. Betrayers, those of us who betray, we are in a deeper pit than the people we’ve pushed into the pit. We are deep in a pit.
And the betrayers in the room are so deep we don’t even realize it. It’s like, “I’m in a pit, really?” Because after you betray someone, the first feeling that you feel is a wave of this euphoric feeling, this ecstasy like, “Wow, I feel so good because I betrayed the person.” Because basically, you want everyone else to feel as betrayed as you feel. And you feel really good. There’s something really fun about it.
Then all of the sudden, though, you’re hit with another wave, a wave of shame, guilt and remorse. It shocks you. You think, “Why should I feel this way?” You’re in a pit, and it gets all muddy and watery. And then you say, “You know what, I’m just going to bury all this stuff.” So, you start the rationalization and justification engines.
But you don’t realize it. You’re digging a deeper hole. The tires are sinking, and you’re getting deeper and deeper into the muck and the mire in the pit.
You start saying, “Well, you would have betrayed this person, too, if he treated you like that,” “You would have ended up in another person’s arms,” and “You would have stolen the client base, too, if they had treated you like that,” or “Yeah, you would have said the same thing, too, if that would have occurred to you.” Then—I’m talking to the betrayers now again—when we’re in the pit, we find ourselves moving toward the adders. Not the ladders, the adders.
What are adders? An adder is a snake, and adders hang out with other adders. We bite each other with venom, and we have our coils all intertwined with other adders, and adders tell us what we want to hear. Adders say, “Yes, you should have betrayed her. You should have betrayed him,” “Yes, you should have sold them down the river. That’s a good thing. Anybody would do that.” Betrayers hang out with other betrayers, adders.
Instead, I want to challenge the betrayers in the house to move to the ladder people. The ladder people love you. The ladder people are pointing you to God. The ladder people are sticking the ladder in the pit and saying, “Come on out baby, let me help you. Let me encourage you. Let me show you the love of God. Do what you need to do. God wants the best for you.”
They’ll speak the truth to you in love. Yet, so many just don’t want to hear it because they’re living a lie.
Joseph’s brothers—you talk about liars—they pushed Joe in the pit. Then, they went back to their dad and said, “Dad, Joseph is dead. Do you see this designer robe? Do you see the blood on it? He’s dead. It’s over.” They were lying. What did they do? They sold Joseph to Egyptian slavery. What happened to Joseph? His career blew up.
For ten years, he worked in Potiphar’s household. Potiphar sat on Pharaoh’s cabinet. Joseph learned leadership from Potiphar. Then, Joseph was thrown in pit number two. He was accused of a crime he didn’t commit. He stayed there for two years.
Then Pharaoh, the guy in Egypt, had these crazy dreams. I mean, Pharaoh couldn’t sleep. He called all the people in, all the magicians and people to try to interpret the dreams. No one could. Then, one guy remembered that Joseph could interpret dreams. And they brought Joseph from the prison into the oval office.
And the Bible said they cleaned him up, and he walked up to Pharaoh and Pharaoh said, “Joseph, I can’t sleep. This dream is dogging me.” Joseph didn’t say, “Hey, take an Ambien.” You know what he said? He said, “I can’t interpret your dream, but God can.”
So Joseph began to explain the dream and he said, “Pharaoh, for seven years, we’re going to have a bull market. I mean it’s going to be a harvest city for Egypt. The next 7 years, though, it’s going to be bad, a bear market. We’re going to go through a famine. So what I think the nation should do is save grain.” Back in the day grain was more valuable than money, “We can save it. We can collect it. And then we’ll have it during the famine, and all of the other nations will come to us. And we’ll sell the grain and make a lot of money.”
And Pharaoh said, “You’re brilliant. I promote you to the number two position in the nation of Egypt. You’re the governor now, Joseph.” So boom, he was promoted—are you ready for this—from the pit, to the palace.
Okay, stay with me. About 20 years pass. You don’t hear anything from Joseph’s brothers. What are these cats doing? Don’t you know it was just brutal for them?
And that’s the thing about the betrayers here: we think everything is buried. I’m sure the brothers we’re saying, “Man, I don’t even want to think about Joseph. I buried him a long time ago, all the shame, all the guilt, all the pain.” We think it’s down deep. But really, it’s right there on the surface.”
Because don’t you know whenever the brothers would go shopping and they would see a designer robe Joseph would happen to pop up. Don’t you know whenever the brothers walked by a coffee shop and someone said, “Hey, let’s grab a cup of Joe,” Joseph would pop up. Don’t you know whenever they saw a caravan, Joseph would pop up. Don’t you know whenever they saw a goat or herd of goats, Joseph would pop up.
You know what? I’m talking about betrayers. Things remind you and me of people we have taken advantage of, of people we’ve hurt, of people we’ve abused, of people we’ve lied to, of people we’ve messed around, of people we’ve stabbed in the back. And we justify and rationalize, and we get deeper and deeper into the pit.”
Well, let’s see what Scripture says about the rest. If you have your Bibles turn to the book of Genesis 42. Now back in the day, when a famine struck, a famine was for real. Everything was so delicate back in the day, if too many insects consumed the crops or they had some harsh elements, it could just throw everybody into a famine.
Well because Joseph was such a good leader, because Joseph had saved so much grain for Egypt, guess what? All the brothers were now feeling the effects of the famine, and here is where we start reading. Genesis 42:1, “When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, ‘Why do you just keep looking at each other?’ ”
You can go ahead and laugh, the Bible is full of humor. I hope you know that. He continued, “ ‘I’ve heard that there is grain in Egypt so go down there and buy some for us, so we may live and not die.’ Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt.” They were hungry. They were feeling the effects of a famine.
When you’re not focusing on your father’s love, and you’re focusing horizontally on people, and on emotion, envy, jealousy, and a lack of confidence, it leads you into betrayal. And after a while, you begin to experience a famine of the soul. You’re hungry, and you find yourself being led back to your Egypt, back to the person that you have betrayed, or to a situation that reminds you of the person you betrayed.
And here is a spiritual law: You will meet your sin again. I want to say it to all the betrayers in the house. I will say it again, it’s not popular, it doesn’t sell a bunch of books, people don’t clap and shout, “Hallelujah, amen,” but the Bible says we will meet our sin again.
Joseph’s brothers, the Bible said, found themselves kneeling down, beaten, battered and broken before the governor of Egypt. Yet, here is what is so interesting: they didn’t know it was Joseph. He had immersed himself in Egyptian culture. They didn’t recognize him. Joseph recognized them. He talked to them through an interpreter. There was such an interesting dynamic going on.
ILLUS: I will never forget what happened several years ago. Lisa and I knew a young woman, and this woman committed adultery with a married man. Eventually this married man left his wife, and married the younger woman. They were married for a while and experienced the thrills and chills of that new relationship. And this man’s career was blowing up, when all of the sudden things began to spiral downward, things began to go south.
And one day, they walked into my office, tears streaming down their faces, and I watched her husband hit his knees and plead for forgiveness. Because through the tears, he confessed to his new bride, “I have been unfaithful to you.” You will meet your sin again.
She committed adultery with him. He left his wife. They got hooked up. Now he did the same thing to her that he did to his first wife. You will meet your sins again, and God will allow brokenness.
God will allow bitterness. God will allow the consequences of sin to accrue in every life here until we either look up or continue to look down and around.
And the sad thing is that God says that some are beyond his reach. In other words, the Bible says that God tries to reach and touch and deal with all of us. Yet, there comes a point—only God knows the point—when the head of the household closes the door and the person begins to beat on the door. And the person exclaims, “Let me in! Let me in! Let me in!” But there is no response.
So if you are a betrayer, the choice is up to you. If you are a betrayer, you have an opportunity right now to come clean. I think it is interesting what happened here because the plot clots.
After Joseph and his brothers talk to each other—again the brothers are clueless about who Joseph is—they get in on this distress and calamity that is a part of their lives. Do you know what they do? They say, “This is happening to us because of what we did to Joseph.”
Isn’t it amazing? That quick, Joseph pops up again. Then as they’re talking to Joseph, and again, they think he is some Egyptian governor, here is what they said to him. I love this in Genesis 42:31, they said, “We are honest men; we’re not spies.”
“To be honest with you…” Whenever someone says that I think, “I’m talking to a liar.” You have some serious problems in your life if you have to say, “I’m honest, I’m full of integrity, I’m a great leader, I have the ability to communicate. You should hear me sing, you talk about athletic—” When people begin to throw those things out, whoa.
You see, Bentley’s don’t advertise. Have you ever been watching a bowl game and heard the announcer say, “The Sugar Bowl, brought to you by Bentley.” No, a Bentley is a Bentley. A Bentley doesn’t need very much advertising. It is just a Bentley, an awesome car. Just be a Bentley. Just see yourself the way God sees you, nothing more and nothing less.
T.S. But hey, here is the great news about our great God. He doesn’t want betrayal to break you. He wants to reach out to you, and forgive you, and to cleanse you, and to touch you and to change your life. Many of you right now are one decision away from it because if the truth were known, you are down on your face before God.
Why wait until a famine? Why wait until you are at this last point? Do it now. You have the chance. The only time you’re guaranteed is right now. “Well Ed, how do I do it?” It’s all about the flab principal. Flab is an ugly word, isn’t it? Flab, there is some flab. Well, there is the flab of betrayal, and let’s get rid of the flab.
F, face the truth. “Yeah but she…but he…by that—” face the truth. Betrayer, think about what you did, the decision you made.
L, look up. Now what are you doing in the pit looking down and around? What are you doing in the pit still trying to fire up those rationalization and justification engines? You’re not going anywhere. You’re getting deeper and deeper. Look up. Allow God to lift you up. Allow the ladder people to help you and place your feet on solid rock.
A, assess the damage, the collateral damage, assess it. Talk to a strong Christian about it or do what maybe a Christian counselor would tell you to do in the situation.
B, become broken. When God wants to make you, so often he’ll let stuff break you. Are you broken? It’s time to hit your face before God and say, “God, have your way with me. The only time I’m assured of is now, and I want to call out to you and do life your way.”
You might think you’re too far away for God to reach you. You’re not because you’re here. But this could be your last chance.