“They refused to pay attention…and would not listen.”
Zec 7:11 NIV
Accept it—some people simply aren’t ready to change! They’ll demand your time and energy, but when you get right down to it, they won’t pay the price for progress. Who are they? (1) People who want to talk but not listen. James speaks about two kinds of people—hearers and doers. “Be…doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (Jas 1:22). Instead of striving endlessly to meet other people’s needs, try to connect them to the One who can. They should be dependent on the Lord, not you. (2) People who don’t think you’re qualified to help them. Jesus wasn’t respected in His hometown, yet He was the very person they needed (See Jn 1:11-12). Opportunity doesn’t always knock, sometimes it stands by, waiting to be recognized! When people are unwilling to accept your help and advice, chances are they may not be ready to grow and deal with their problems. (3) People who want what you have, but not what you know. These folks want to be rescued but instructed; comforted but not corrected. And when you keep bailing them out instead of teaching them how to live, you’re not really helping them. David said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes” (Ps 119:71). Often people have to experience the pain of what’s wrong before they appreciate the wisdom of what’s right. So when it comes to helping people—be discerning.
“They would not listen or respond.”
Jer 32:33 NIV
There are people you can’t help—at least not right now. Notice what God said about the Israelites: “Though I taught them again and again, they would not listen or respond.” Now, if God Himself can’t help them, what chance do you have? Let’s look at some people who usually can’t be helped: (1) People who keep making excuses. Excuses are a crutch for lack of commitment and a smoke-screen for self-justification. You can’t help someone until they’re willing to take responsibility for their life and apply the solutions of Scripture. Think: If they won’t listen to God, what difference will your opinion make? (2) People who move in the wrong circles. The Bible says, “Bad company corrupts good character” (1Co 15:33 NLT). There are people who simply don’t belong in your life, and you can’t move forward until you break the link that connects you. The company you keep influences your conduct and character, and those two things decide your future. (3) People who blame God for their problems. When trouble comes, they ask, “Why did God allow this to happen to me?” The fact is, you’ll never see God as your solution until you stop seeing Him as your problem. God laid it on the line for His people: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life” (Dt 30:19). If you want to keep from getting discouraged, love people and pray for them, but spend your time with those who are willing to be helped.
“I will provide for you.”
Ge 45:11 NKJV
The dream God gave Joseph was not about feeling good because he was now the number two guy in Egypt, but about positioning him to feed his family and the world in time of famine. Don’t miss the point here. When God gives you a dream, it will bless you—and others. The Bible says, “God so loved the world” (Jn 3:16). God’s plan is not to make you an icon, but an instrument to fulfill His will. From Joseph’s family would come the Redeemer of the world, but his family was being threatened with extinction. So God put a plan in place which involved Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream and being elevated to the throne so that His plan could be accomplished. And here’s another thought: Joseph’s story proves that a God-given dream will change your attitude toward others, including those who mistreat you. It will make you more gracious, loving, and forgiving. Remembering how they betrayed him, Joseph’s brothers trembled as they stood before him realizing he held their fate in his hands. But he refused to retaliate, or even utter a word about what they’d done. Listen to what he told them: “I will provide for you.” Instead of revenge, he wanted the relationship restored. “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day” (Ge 50:20 NKJV). How you treat others, especially when you’re in a position of strength, determines how God will treat you.
“Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him.”
Ge 37:5 NKJV
The story of Joseph teaches that success can cause others to mistreat you. Not everyone will celebrate your success, including some of those closest to you. When Jesus’ fame began to spread, the first people to reject Him were from the town He grew up in. It caused Him to say, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country” (Mt 13:57 NKJV). The Bible says of Joseph, “His brothers envied him” (Ge 37:11 NKJV). There it is—envy! When God blesses you, those who feel left out may target you. Some may feel more worthy and deserving, and that your blessing came at their expense. That’s how Cain felt when he murdered his brother Abel. That’s how King Saul felt when David killed Goliath and the people sang. “Saul has killed thousands, but David has killed tens of thousands” (1Sa 29:5 GNT). Shortly afterwards, Saul started throwing spears at David, but the spear never left his hand until it plunged into his own heart (See 1Sa 31:5 NLT). That’s because envy is like a boomerang; it comes back to hurt the one who throws it. When the father of the Prodigal Son threw a party to celebrate his return to the family, the older brother said, “These many years I have served you…yet you never gave me a…feast” (See Lk 15:29 AMPC). The older brother made three mistakes we often make:
(a) He compared himself to his brother.
(b) He exposed his brother’s sins and shortcomings.
(c) He failed to appreciate the extent of his father’s love for him and the blessings he had bestowed on him. So learn from his mistakes.
“Then he dreamed still another dream.”
Ge 37:9 NKJV
If you’ve already fulfilled the dream God gave you, ask Him for another one. A bigger one. The Bible says, “Joseph dreamed another dream.” And the second was bigger than the first. In the first dream he saw sheaves of wheat on the ground bowing down to him, but in the second dream he saw stars in the heavens bowing down to him. Ask God to lift your sights and cause you to aim higher. But a note of caution: Before God will give you another dream, He will wait to see what you do with the first one He gave you. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zec 4:10 NLT). Great endings usually start with humble beginnings. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1Pe 5:5-6 NKJV). If your dream is to prosper financially, it’s in harmony with God’s promises (See Dt 8:18; Isa 48:17; 2Co 9:8; 3Jn v.2). But there are three scriptural conditions you must meet in order for your dream to be fulfilled:
(1) You must be willing to honor God with your present income (See Mal 3:8-10).
(2) You must be willing to share what you have and meet the needs of others (See Pr 11:25).
(3) You must practice fiscal discipline rather than squandering what God gives you on reckless spending and impulse buying (See Pr 21:20).
When you meet His conditions, God promises to bless you and fulfill the dream He has given you for your life.