A Take-Home Test


As a little boy, my mom nailed me for stealing a valued possession from a friend’s home. My initial response was, “I did not mean to take it.” I refused to own up to the harsh truth that I had stolen from a friend. I paid dearly! Sadly, we live in a day and age where we tend to blow sin off. We pretend, defend, hide, justify, blame, or minimize. 

  • What is your tendency in relationships when you are forced to own up to mistakes, errors, and sin?  


29 When they came to Jacob their father in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30“The man, the lord of the land, spoke roughly to us and took us to be spies of the land. 31But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we have never been spies. 32We are twelve brothers, sons of our father. One is no more, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘By this I shall know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain for the famine of your households, and go your way. 34Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I shall know that you are not spies but honest men, and I will deliver your brother to you, and you shall trade in the land.’”

35 As they emptied their sacks, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack. And when they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were afraid. 36And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” 37Then Reuben said to his father, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.” 38But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Without one of their brothers (Simeon, who was being held in prison in a foreign land), the others returned from Egypt and recounted their encounter with Joseph. How would you describe the general tone of verses 29-34?
  2. What was Jacob attempting to emphasize when he responded in verses 36 and 38?
  3. Put yourself in the brothers’ predicament. How would you have responded? 
  4. What are some of the ways that God has used circumstances to help you see or understand the depth of your sin and your need for God’s grace?


The attitudes of Joseph’s brothers were changing. Faced with a personal crisis, they acknowledged their guilt. They regarded their suffering as righteous, divine punishment. Also, they began to place their father Jacob’s interests above their own. However, their repentance was not yet complete. The process of contrition had to run deeper before reconciliation with Joseph was possible. 

  • Ask God to search your heart for any unresolved guilt. 
  • Open your heart, giving the Lord free reign to convict your conscience to discover a renewed sensitivity to the his leading.