Text: Genesis 37:18-36; Proverbs 19:21
A soldier in the US Military who refuses to fight on the front line of the battlefield is called a coward. There is no place on the battlefield for the soldier who is a coward, one who will go “Only Halfway.”
In a spiritual sense, the disciple of Christ (one who is a 100% follower of Jesus Christ; one who gives 100% of his body, soul, and spirit to serve Christ in His Kingdom’s work) is “…as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).
The disciple of Christ is in a war of good versus evil; light versus darkness; and righteousness versus sin. The Apostle Paul, speaking to Timothy (his son in the ministry of Jesus Christ) says:
“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:1)
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3)
“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:4)
The Apostle Paul instructs Timothy here, and the Church in many other places, that a disciple (or a soldier of Jesus Christ) cannot be a disciple unless he is a 100% soldier. (One that is disciplined in the rules, determined in his duty, to defend even unto death.) Then a disciple (or a soldier), if he is not 100%, is going Only Halfway. He is labeled a compromiser and a coward.
The text verses, Genesis 37:18-36, reveal two such compromisers, or cowards, among God’s people – Reuben and Judah. These men were two of Jacob’s twelve sons.
Joseph’s brothers wanted to get rid of Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son, the son he loved supremely. The story is the getting rid of Joseph by his brothers. Some of them said they should kill Joseph; but Reuben and Judah were used of God to spare Joseph’s life, as Joseph was sold as a slave to the Ishmaelites.
It is true that Reuben and Judah stood up to the other brothers and recommended that Joseph’s blood not be on their hands. But Reuben and Judah went Only Halfway – they compromised. Judah agreed to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites. And they both agreed to tell their daddy, Jacob, that Joseph had been killed by an animal. They took lies over murder. But they were really cowards and compromisers.
What was their problem?
First, envy and jealousy of their father’s love for Joseph – they hated that Joseph was so loved by their father, Jacob. Also, pride – they did not want Joseph to reign over them. And remember, it is not that they did not know the truth (about murder and lies), but they were too cowardly to stand up to the other brothers and take Joseph home to Jacob.
So it is the same today for soldiers in God’s army who go Only Halfway.
Their envy and jealousy of the Father’s love for His servants, His friends – because of:
1) Their Position to the Father (God):
(Genesis 37:4) “And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him…”
See John 15:13-18. The halfway disciples hate those whom God loves and who follow God (God’s friends). Why? Because the real disciple reveals the cowardice of the halfway disciple.
2) Their Perception of the Father:
(Genesis 37:3) “Now Israel (or Jacob) loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age…”
The halfway disciples see that the true disciple is One with God (John 17:21-24); that his nature is a new nature, created by God and implanted in him (2 Corinthians 5:17). They see that the new creature in Christ loves righteousness, peace, and holiness – and not sin. They see that the true disciple (or soldier) is fully committed to Christ. Again, the true disciple reveals the cowardice of the halfway disciple.
3) Their Power is of the Father:
(Genesis 37:8) “And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? …”
The halfway disciple realizes that he is in a subordinate position. He knows he has not the power that the true disciple has to be an overcomer and to be victorious over his flesh and the world. The halfway disciple wants the blessing, but he wants a short cut to victory – and there is no short cut to victory. The Power is in Christ and in Him alone (2 Corinthians 12:8-10; Philippians 4:13). But the halfway disciple knows there is a cost to wear the coat of many colors, which is indicative of the Father’s love.
Their Lack of Commitment to Christ:
Surrender to God as Lord and Master
Speaks of choice (read Deuteronomy 30:14-19):
(Deuteronomy 30:19) “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”
Moses was instructing the Children of Israel just before going into Canaan Land – the choice is life or death; blessing or cursing.
But as Bible history records in Numbers 13, 14, and 16, only two men, Caleb and Joshua, of the original people who came out of Egypt, went over into Canaan Land. All the others chose to say, “…we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:33); and they did not go over. So they were cowards and compromisers. They were types of the halfway disciples.
To be an overcomer, you:
1) Choose whom ye will serve (Joshua 24:15).
2) Hate family, fortune, and fame; even your own life (Luke 24:16-33).
3) Must be a cross bearer (Luke 14:27).
4) Must count the cost (Luke 14:28-29).
5) Cannot be a fence straddler; you either love Christ supremely or you don’t. If you love Him, you will keep His Commandments (John 14:15; 13:34-35; 1 John 3:11-24; 4:7-21; Matthew 22:37-40).
6) Cannot be a secret disciple
a) “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26)
b) “As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 9:33)
c) Hebrews 11:16, 23-25
d) Philippians 1:20
You will not be ashamed of Christ, but count it an honor to be a soldier of Jesus Christ – a disciplined soldier, a determined soldier, and a defending soldier.
Submission to God’s Word and Will
Reuben, Judah, and the other brothers would not submit to their father’s love for Joseph, or that Joseph would rule over them.
The same today, the Only Halfway disciple rebels at obeying God’s Word and does not want Christ to rule over them in every aspect of their life (in body, soul, and spirit).
Obedience to God’s Word
The true disciple must be a “doer” of God’s Word, not only a hearer (James 1:22). He must walk by faith and have the works of faith (Ephesians 5:1-33; Galatians 5:1-28; James 2:14-26; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 4:13).
Endure in Obedience to God
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
The halfway disciples of the 21st Century in the free world are envious and jealous of the true disciples (represented by Joseph). They are rebellious to God’s Word in walking by faith and faith alone.
The results are cowardice and compromise. And then the results are doubt, fear, depression, and defeat in their daily lives.
The sole purpose of this devotion is to cause you to examine yourself as to:
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
To see if you be “in Christ” and if so – why are you a halfway disciple? There is no blessing or profit in being a soldier of Jesus Christ and being a coward.
Man up for Christ. Stand up for Christ. Live up for Christ. And be a good soldier of Jesus Christ – bearing the testimony of Jesus Christ where you live and work.