Monday, October 04, 2010


Research has uncovered a serious disease that affects one out of three individuals. It's abbreviation is TMI, but you may know it as, “Too-much-eous Information-eous.” (Okay, just so we're clear – I'm making all this up) The symptoms of Too-much-eous Information-eous (TMI) are easy to recognize. The TMI carrier shares more information than his/her hearers need to know, should know or even want to know. A TMI carrier talks long after his/her listeners have stopped listening. TMI can be contagious, when an otherwise discreet or tactful individual endures repeated exposure to a TMI sufferer. To protect ourselves from this modern epidemic, we have a powerful yet simple weapon at our disposal: a single question posed to anyone you might suspect suffers from TMI. Simply make good eye contact and ask, “If you were to describe yourself as a punctuation mark, what would you be?” If the person answers, “Exclamation point, period, or question mark,” you may safely pursue a healthy conversation. However, if the individual answers, “semi-colon, comma, or (heaven help us) ellipsis – a triple dot at the end of a sentence,” RUN! You have encountered a TMI carrier, and your social graces may be in grave danger! If you believe you may have already been infected with the TMI germ, perform these simple tests at your next social gathering. #1 – If you don't get invited to a social gathering, you are probably a carrier. #2 – If you go to a party, and people's eyes glaze over the moment you begin speaking, you may be a carrier. #3 – If you go to a party, and they ask you to refill the food trays and punch bowl – and you've never met the host/hostess – you may be a carrier. My advice to you, if you have already been infected by the TMI germ…end every story with, “And then I found five dollars.” At least then all your stories will have a happy ending. Our biblical example of a TMI carrier: Joseph, Jacob's eleventh son…

Gen. 37:1-2 – “Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.” (emphasis added)
  • You would hope that by age seventeen, Joseph would have found more creative ways than tattling to solve problems. Granted, some instances require the intervention of an mediator; however, could Joseph's tattling have been avoided with a more tactful attempt at diplomacy? Joseph's runaway tongue shares TMI with others, building walls where a little wisdom might have built bridges. Too often, even adults are guilty of tattling in order to gain support for their “side” of an issue.
Gen. 37:3-4 – “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.”
  • It seems Joseph wasn't the only one suffering from TMI. Jacob, too, seemed to share his favoritism too freely. Rather than recognizing the sin of dividing his household, Jacob flaunted his dysfunction by draping Joseph in the richly ornamented proof of his fatherly love. It was TMI and became salt in the wounded hearts of his other sons.
Gen. 37:5-8 – “Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, 'Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.' His brothers said to him, 'Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?' And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.” (emphasis added)
  • Joseph's brothers hated him for two reasons – one was beyond Joseph's control, the other was TMI. Joseph's dream was a subconscious response initiated by God, foretelling a future event that the Lord would indeed bring to pass. However, Joseph's mistake was sharing his spiritual insights with folks who could not/would not/did not appreciate hearing about Joseph's heavenly encounter. We must choose carefully those with whom we share God's work in our lives.
Gen. 37:9-11 – “Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. 'Listen,' he said, 'I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.' When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, 'What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?' His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.” (emphasis added)
  • Okay, the first dream-share we can chalk up to an “oops,” for silly young Joseph. But when the kid adds fuel to his brothers' already white-hot flames of hatred, we've just got to shake our heads and say, “Yo, dude! TMI!” Since he included his father in this second explanation, I'm wondering if he thought he might get Jacob's approval…. Oops, miscalculation. I find it interesting that Jacob asks if Joseph's mother and he will come and bow down – Rachel is dead. Jacob chastises Joseph, but Scripture says that Jacob “kept the matter in mind.” Perhaps Jacob knew this impulsive, extravagant son, who has a severe case of TMI, has also been called by God for a special purpose. I find great comfort in that…
Lord, I see the faults in Joseph and Jacob – and many of the Bible characters – and they mirror so many of my own shortcomings. Having battled TMI all my life, it continues to plague me from time to time. Can you still use me, Lord? Even though I say the wrong thing at the wrong time? Even though I tell more than anyone needs to know? I trust Your power and wisdom to be greater than my weakness and flaws. Let it be so, Father. Let it be so.

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