There are qualities in the Biblical story of Joseph that truly inspire me. Specifically personal character traits I see in the young man Joseph.
Just so you get the complete picture, imagine how difficult it would have been to be in the position he finds himself. He is sold by his family. Chew on that idea for a few minutes. He is in a nation he does not know, speaking a language he doesn’t understand, submersed in a culture that is completely foreign and among people who consider him nothing more than property. If anyone has a legitimate reason to gripe about life, it’s Joseph.
While I’ll never say I’ve been in a situation as bad as Joseph’s, there have been times where I have found myself in a very lonely place, far from home and the people I love. You probably have experienced the same thing to one degree or another. It happens when life throws us some curves and circumstances happen where we end up in a place we never dreamed of being.
How we react when we find ourselves in our own “Egypt” is quite revealing about our character. In this story, particularly in chapter 39 of Genesis, I see 3 main character qualities that we would be wise to remember to incorporate into our life.
- Be The Best Servant (Worker) That You Can
The first thing I notice is the little comment in the first half of verse 4,
Joseph found favor in his sight and served him…
Even in this terrible situation, Joseph maintained a servant’s heart. He worked hard and must have done an exemplary work. He ends up being promoted, but before that happened, he performed his job quite well.
Paul tells us in Colossians,
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. – Colossians 3:23-24 (NKJV)
I remember some advice I was given by a friend of mine when I was stuck doing a job I really hated. I had no other options at the time and I had to work this job to keep putting food on the table. After I complained about my situation for a few minutes he finally told me to just be the best I could be at that position. Then he loosely quoted that verse in Colossians and I realized as a follower of Christ, it really was irrelevant if I liked my job or not. I had to do the best job I could.
- Be Trustworthy
Potiphar put his entire household, which includes the supplies and finances under Joseph care. Why would he put such responsibility onto a slave? Obviously because he trusted Joseph.
So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. – Genesis 39:5-6a
Over a period of time, Joseph must have had demonstrated that he could be trusted. In fact, he trusted Joseph so much, he got to the point where he (Potiphar) didn’t even know the state of his household finances. He never worried about it or spent time with those day-to-day matters because Joseph handed all those duties.
Years ago, I managed a number of part-time co-workers. Often they worked odd hours and it was difficult to oversee everyone. There were quite a few expensive pieces of equipment being used by these part-timers and periodically we noticed items were missing. I soon realized I didn’t have some trustworthy people as co-workers.
Having a difficult job does not mean you can walk away with things of your employers. The Bible calls that little activity “stealing” but too often we justify our actions by any number of excuses. Joseph’s character proved he was a trustworthy individual. So much that Potiphar put all that he had into Joseph’s care.
- Be Obedient to God
This is a big issue.
Sometimes, we think we get a pass on obedience just because life is tough for us. We rationalize that things are hard for us and relaxing God’s standards just a little bit isn’t going to hurt us. WRONG!
We’re familiar with the story. Potiphar’s wife comes on to Joseph and he resists her. But notice what he says in verse 9;
There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
Did you see it? Joseph realized any actions on his part toward Potiphar’s wife would be a sin against God! He could have made all sorts of reasons up to justify this sexual temptation, but there was no way getting around the fact that this would be a sin against God.
I am all for offering people grace and forgiveness. I’m a big one in allowing for people’s weaknesses. But sin is sin and it is a bad thing. Being in a bad job or in a bad situation of life does not give you a free pass on sin.
When we sin, any sin not just sexual sin, it is an offense before God. Being in “Egypt” is difficult but we need to be men and women of high moral character and be faithful to God and submit to Him even when it’s not a convenient thing.
I find these 3 character traits of Joseph a great model for life. No matter where we find ourselves, if we incorporate these qualities in our character when things are good and we things are no-so-good, we will be the person God calls us to be.
Nobody wants to go to Egypt. But if life takes you there, work hard, be trustworthy and be obedient.
Blessings My Friend.