One Family Member can Change a Dysfunctional Family

Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-50 is a biblical portrait of what God can do in dysfunctional family relationships when one family member yielded to God.

How did Joseph’s dysfunctional family look like? Genesis 37

Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob, born to him in his old age. He loved Joseph more than any of this other older sons. When his brothers saw that their father favoured him more than the others they became very jealous and angry. In their vengeance they wanted to kill him, but instead sold Joseph into slavery. This family was dysfunctional for the following reasons:

  • Lack good communication: The children did not communicate with their father or with Joseph.
  • Partiality: Jacob favoured Joseph above his other children.
  • Jealousy: The children were jealous of Joseph.
  • Dishonest: Joseph’s brothers were dishonest and told lies to their father about Joseph.
  • Anger: The brothers were very angry at Joseph telling dreams about them bowing in front of Joseph.
  • Vengefulness: The brothers were so mad at Joseph at they were looking for vengeance.
  • Disloyalty: The brothers were disloyal towards their father and Joseph.
  • Disrespect: The brothers of Joseph had now respect for their dad or for each other.
  • Fearfulness: The brothers were afraid that their father will find out about what they did to Joseph.

If one member of a family lives according to the will of God, it can change the family from being dysfunctional to functional. In Genesis 39 and 41 Joseph lived according to the will of God, which shows some of the characteristics of a functional family:

  • Yielded to God’s ways: Joseph constantly looks to be in God’s will.
  • Obedient to authority: Joseph submits to the authority of his dad, older brothers, and the authorities in the jail.
  • Trustworthy: Joseph’s dad and the authorities in Egypt could trust him.
  • Morally pure: Joseph’s mind and behaviour was morally pure.
  • Faithful: Joseph could be trusted with the family’s and authorities’ affairs in Egypt.
  • Honest: Joseph’s conduct showed he was honest in his dealings with everybody.
  • Humble: He was humble when he was in a authority position.
  • Perseverance: Joseph persevered in very difficult circumstances even in jail.

With these characteristics Joseph was the key to turn his family eventually around to be a functional family. In Genesis 42 the response of Joseph to his dysfunctional family members brought healing in their midst. The characteristics that changed the dysfunctional family to a functional family were:

  • Forgiveness: Joseph forgave his brothers for what they did to him.
  • Generosity: Instead of pay his brothers back for what they did to him, he was generous towards his brothers and family.
  • Honourable: Joseph was honourable in his conduct towards his family.

Joseph’s response to God brought healing to his family as well, as we read in Genesis 50 what he did:

  • Submit to God: Joseph submits to God’s will.
  • Trust: Joseph trusted God though he did not know how that would turn out with his family.
  • Honourable: He honoured God in all he did.

As Joseph, don’t be a prisoner of your past, but turn it around being free by living according to the will of God. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)