The biography of Joseph is nothing short of remarkable, occupying as much or more space in Genesis than the biographies of Adam, Noah, Abraham, or even his father, Jacob. Joseph emerges from the pages of Scripture as a man with whom most of us can identify. Over his long life, Joseph responded to broken dreams and impossible circumstances with a faith that propelled him from the pit of slavery to the pinnacle of power.
It’s not the bait that constitutes sin; it’s the bite! Joseph understood this and refused to let his desire run wild when Potiphar’s wife enticed him to sin. We want to understand why and how Joseph said no when lust’s offer was pleading for him to answer yes.
When it comes to temptation, our culture offers very little motivation to resist it. More often than not, we hear the voices yelling, “Give in! You deserve to be happy!” Truly, yielding to temptation is much easier than resisting it. Joseph provides a sterling example of one who could have cuddled lust and enjoyed its warm embrace but instead chose to resist its persistent, alluring offer in favour of righteousness.
The pain of unjust suffering—one of the most severe trials we can experience—tests our faith like nothing else. In our world today, we can’t escape it. As difficult as injustice is to endure, the greater challenge is facing it with an attitude that preserves faith. For the most part, we can’t control what happens to us today or tomorrow, whether fair or foul. But we can choose our attitude.
When it comes to temptation, our culture offers little motivation to resist it. Yielding is much easier than resisting temptation, but for those who yield the path of life is strewn with the litter of remorse and shame.
In life, testing is more often than not “par for the course.” But sometimes God rescues us from our plight, bringing us into new circumstances. For 13 years Joseph had been a slave in Egypt. And all the while, His plans for Joseph were in motion, leading Joseph to the cusp of his release from prison and an unexpected blessing. Through Joseph’s example, we should be encouraged to trust God—even in difficult times of waiting.
God is never obligated to give us health and wealth, but the story of Joseph is an example of a man who was rewarded for his righteousness and kept his integrity intact. From him we can learn a lesson in how to respond to those who prosper and those who suffer.
After seven years of blessing and abundance, the famine was in full bloom. People from the surrounding lands came to Egypt for grain—including Joseph’s brothers. Upon recognizing the men who threw him into a pit and sold him as a slave, Joseph faced a difficult decision. Would he be the type of person who remembers what he ought to forget and forgets what he ought to remember? Are you?
Though seasoned in walking with God, Jacob remained a victim of his own carnal clumsiness. Instead of seeing the Lord’s hand of protection on his sons’ lives, he became paralyzed by fear, worry, and resentment. Jacob relied on himself rather than on God’s strength. And his reluctance to trust God almost led to disaster. Sometimes we tend to be just like Jacob—expecting the worst rather than trusting God’s best.
Modelling God’s grace, Joseph welcomed his brothers into his home, responded to their mistreatment with kindness and blessing, and gathered into a family those who had long felt alienated. As we watch Joseph’s shamefaced brothers receive his outpouring of grace, we will be challenged to set aside our guilt and fear and accept God’s free gift of grace.