The Lesser of Two Evils
Daily Bible Reading – Genesis 37,38; Psalm 7; Luke 15
Today’s Key Passage – Genesis 37:12-28
Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son, and all of his brothers hated him for it. They were jealous of the way Jacob treated Joseph and of the finely ornamented robe he had been given. Joseph did not help matters much as he told his brothers about two different dreams he had in which everyone was bowing down to him. His boastful attitude made his brothers hate him even more. Therefore, when his brothers saw him coming in the distance, they plotted to kill him. At first, they were going to kill him outright and say that an animal ate him. When Reuben heard this plan, he convinced his brothers not to kill him but instead to throw him into a cistern and leave him there. To the other brothers, this plan sounded better because they would not have to face the guilt of killing their brother, so they threw him in the cistern. Then when they saw the Ishmaelites coming, Judah came up with another idea. Instead of leaving Joseph in the cistern, they could sell him to the Ishmaelites as a slave. The brothers likely would not have expected Joseph to survive long with the Ishmaelites as a slave, so they could in essence let the Ishmaelites do their dirty work for them. Once again, this seemed like a better plan to the other brothers because now all of the guilt for Joseph’s eventual demise could be passed off onto the Ishmaelites instead of themselves.
Twice in today’s key passage, we see the brothers choosing the lesser of two evils. When they first had to choose between killing Joseph outright or throwing him into the cistern, they chose the lesser of two evils. When they had to choose between leaving him in the cistern or selling him to slaves, they chose the lesser of two evils. When faced with a choice that is obviously wrong, it can sometimes be easy to choose an option that seems a little bit less wrong at the time. Obviously, the brothers knew that killing Joseph was wrong. They knew they would feel guilty if they sinned in this way, so when a slightly less repulsive option came along, they jumped at it. The problem in this thinking is that even when you choose the lesser of two evils, you are still choosing evil. While “the lesser of two evils” is a catchy phrase that makes for a nice title to a blog post, the fact is there really are not degrees of evil. The way God sees it (and the way we should see it too) there is only good and evil. When we make choices, we make either a good choice or an evil choice. There is no middle ground or grey area when it comes to good vs. evil. Just as we cannot half-heartedly decide to follow Jesus, we cannot choose an option that is inherently evil and then justify our choice by deciding it is less evil than the alternatives. When we are faced with two options, our first question should be to test whether or not either option is good and right. If neither of our options appears to be the right thing to do, we must keep searching for more options. God will never allow us to be faced with a situation where there is not a “good” path to take. Sometimes, though, we may have to spend some time in prayer to find that option and avoid choosing the lesser of two evils.
During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you? Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.
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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.