The people of Canaan were running out of food!
There was a big famine all over the world.
The only country where there was still plenty to eat was Egypt. Several years earlier Pharaoh, the king of Egypt had a dream that the famine was coming. So the Egyptians had stocked up on food before it was too late. They had saved so much that they even had enough to sell to the rest of the world.
Meanwhile in Canaan, where Jacob lived, everyone was rushing to Egypt to buy food for their hungry families. But Jacob and his family still had plenty to eat. They were grateful to God that they didn't need to travel to Egypt to buy food.
But Jacob was concerned. He thought "If our neighbors see us sitting home comfortable while they all have to go to Egypt, they're going to get angry and jealous of us. And it's not good to make people jealous."
So even though they still had enough to eat, Jacob decided to send his sons to Egypt to buy food just like everyone else. So they wouldn't stand out and make people jealous.
Just like Jacob taught his sons the importance of not making people jealous, a young girl realizes that sometimes the show isn't as important as …
THE DRESS REHEARSAL
But Mom, why can't I wear this new dress to school?" groaned Stephanie. "It's sooo gorgeous, nobody has anything like it."
It was true. Stephanie's family was quite well off and could afford to buy her the best. Her new dress was one-of-a-kind and extra special. And Stephanie couldn't wait to show it off to her friends.
But in their home town of Poorville most people were pretty poor and wore simple clothes. In fact, none of Stephanie's classmates could even dream of owning such a fancy dress.
"Well, Mom, what do you say?" asked Stephanie as she admired herself in the mirror.
"I don't know, Steffi," said her mom. "How do you think your friends will feel when they see you in this dress?" she asked.
"Well...er...pretty jealous, I guess," answered Stephanie.
Is that the way you want to make people feel?" asked her mom.
Stephanie thought about it. She knew her mom was right. But she just loved the new dress.
Finally she said, "Mom, I think I'd rather just wear this dress at home where nobody will see, like at special family dinners. Is that okay?"
Stephanie's mother hugged her daughter and beamed. "Steffi, that's exactly why I bought it for you."
Q. How would Stephanie's friends feel if she came to school in a dress so much nicer than theirs?
A. They would feel bad and jealous.
Q. If your friend got a big new toy, would you feel happier if he played with it right in front of you, or it he only used it in his house where you didn't see it?
Q. If Stephanie loved her new dress, why did she decide not to wear it to school?
A. Because when her friends saw her they would get jealous.
Q. How was Stephanie's decision not to wear the dress similar to Jacob's decision to send his sons to Egypt to buy food?
A. They both did what they did for the sake of not standing out and making people jealous.
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Why is it a bad thing to make people jealous?
A. Jealousy is a negative feeling. It comes from a sense of not being as good, or not having as much, as another person. This is not a feeling we want to inspire in people; it is always better to inspire positive feelings in others.
Q. Some people say, "if you have it -- flaunt it!" What makes people show off what they have, even at the risk of making others feel bad?
A. Some people are insecure. They think that showing off will make people admire them, when in fact it brings out the opposite feeling. The slogan "if you have it -- flaunt it!" was coined by advertisers who want people to buy expensive things.