HONESTY (Lesson 4)
In this last lesson on honesty, we are going to finish looking at Joseph. Let's pick up the story from the point when Joseph had been sold to some Egyptian traders by his brothers (Read Genesis 39:1).
Joseph was a man after God's own heart. He was an honest man. But here we see that sometimes people who try to do good will still suffer at the hands of wicked people. Joseph didn't want to be a slave, but that is where he ended up. But keep in mind that just because things aren't going the way you hoped for, that doesn't mean that God doesn't care for you or that God is not still in control. Sometimes we don't understand God's ways, but we have to remain faithful to the Lord and stay strong nonetheless. And you have to learn to look at the positive side of things instead of the negative. Joseph's brothers could have killed him, but instead they sold him as a slave. Joseph could have been a slave working in the fields, but instead God arranged for him to be in the palace with an important official in the royal court. God took Joseph from the pit to the palace. What is the positive side of your present circumstance?
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Now back to the story. Next, Joseph shows us that if you are an honest man who serves God, even in difficult circumstances, God will be with you and show you His favor. (Read Genesis 39:2-6).
Joseph could have been bitter. He could have been lazy. He could have done just enough to get by. But instead he chose to work hard. And he didn't waiver in his faith and belief in God. And because of this, God cared for, protected, and blessed Joseph. This is a good lesson to learn from Joseph. You probably miss your family just like Joseph missed his father and brother. But instead of being angry or mad at God, trust that He is still caring for you and protecting you and has a plan for your life. And instead of getting into fights here or giving the staff a hard time, show them what a man of God is all about. Be an example. People will see God in you and treat you accordingly.
Potiphar could see that Joseph was a man who walked closely with the Lord. And after a short time, Potiphar trusted Joseph with everything that he had. He made him overseer of his house. He trusted Joseph so much that Potiphar didn't even know how much money or wealth he had. Instead he let Joseph take care of all of the finances.
How many of us here can be trusted like that? Have you ever stolen money out of your mother's wallet or took the family car late at night without asking permission? Are you trustworthy when no one is looking? Joseph could be trusted 100%, and here we see that if you are faithful and honest with a little, God will bless you and entrust you with even more. God rewarded Joseph's honesty and hard work.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Now let's see what happened to Joseph next. Sometimes just when you think things are going pretty good, Satan will enter the picture and try to mess everything up for you. (Read Genesis 39:6b-7).
You might be able to resist stealing and lying and cheating, but will you be able to resist temptations of the flesh? Here Joseph is probably lonely, being away from his family and his homeland. And I'm sure that Potiphar's wife was probably very beautiful. It's a pretty tempting situation. But let's see how this man after God's own heart handled the situation. (Read Genesis 39:8-9).
Joseph told Potiphar's wife "no." Joseph realized that everything he had was because of God's grace. He valued God more than anything else. Joseph didn't turn down the woman's advances just because of Potiphar's possible anger, nor did he worry about what this woman would think of his manliness. Sometimes we fall into temptations of the flesh because we don't consider the most important person. Sure, we worry about getting diseases or getting someone pregnant or being caught cheating by our girlfriend or boyfriend. And even with all that on our mind, we oftentimes do it anyway. But here Joseph shows us what was the most important thing to him. He said, "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"
And think about it. If you really cared about God the way Joseph did, you would think twice about doing anything dishonest. Instead of wondering if you could get away with it or thinking how much fun it would be or doing it to go along with everyone else, you should consider how displeasing your dishonest acts are to God Himself. And just as Joseph realized how much God had done for him, surely you realize how blessed you already are. Well, back to the story. Potiphar's wife didn't leave Joseph alone after he turned her down. She just kept after him. (Read Genesis 39:10-12).
Isn't that just like the devil to keep after you? That is why you should never become a lazy Christian. You have to always be on guard and never stop praying and reading your bible and attending church.
The devil maybe thought, "Joseph is probably lonely. I can't trip him up with material things, but I'll bet he won't be able to resist a beautiful woman. Now, if I can just get him to sleep with Potiphar's wife." But Joseph would have none of that. And the important lesson that we can learn from Joseph here is that you don't try to reason with sin. You flee from it. Joseph didn't want anything to do with this woman. He didn't try to witness to her. He didn't try to be her friend. He didn't say, "Well, maybe just a cup of coffee." He knew what she had in mind, and he got as far away from her as possible. And that is how we should handle ourselves in situations that are against God's word. 2 Timothy 2:22 tells us "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
Never make the mistake of thinking you can control sin. Flee from it. Run. Get away. And when you flee from sin, don't run to someone who will encourage you to do wrong. Yes, you can beat sin and the devil, but you have to want to resist him. James 4:7-8 tells us, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." If you flee from sin, the devil will eventually leave you alone. When you belong to the army of the living God, the devil has no choice but to flee. For example, if you keep telling your friends that you are not interested in being a part of anything illegal or dishonest, eventually they will stop asking you. Or if you tell the person who has the stolen merchandise that you are not interested in buying anything and you then quote a bible verse to them, they will take their stolen goods elsewhere.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Now back to the story. Potiphar's wife had enough of Joseph rejecting her. She decided to get him into trouble. She accused Joseph of attempting to rape her. (Read Genesis 39:13-18).
Have you ever had that happen? You try to do everything right, and still something bad happens in your life. But, remember, Christ tells us in John 16:33, "... In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." And as Christ's followers, we, too, will overcome the world. If you are faithful until the end, there will come a time when every tear you ever shed and every bad thing you ever had to endure will be replaced with joy that surpasses all understanding. Now, let's see what happened to Joseph next. (Read Genesis 39:19-21).
At first this sounds pretty bad. Joseph is imprisoned for something he didn't do. But if you look closely, you will see that the Lord is still with Joseph. The charge of attempted rape, especially against an Egyptian official's wife, was a charge that would have carried the death penalty. But perhaps Potiphar, in the back of his mind, knew that honest, God-fearing Joseph wouldn't have done something like that. So instead of having Joseph executed, he put him in the king's prison.
Do you have a reputation like Joseph had as a God-fearing honest man? If someone accused you of something, would people believe them, or would they say, "Not John. I'll be his character witness." "Not Megan. I've seen by her actions that she is a woman of God." The Bible says in Proverbs 22:1, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold." I hope that like Joseph you all strive to live honestly and retain your "good name" and the Lord's favour.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Let's finish up (Read Genesis 39:22-23). Even while in prison, Joseph was blessed by God. And we don't have time to go into it all, but if you read on, you will see that eventually Joseph is freed from prison and becomes a high-ranking official. And God blessed Joseph because throughout all of Joseph's ups and downs, Joseph never stopped being honest. Joseph never stopped being a man of God. People think that they gain something by being dishonest. But when you are honest and people can see that you are a child of God by your actions, that is when you will truly prosper in ways that are the most important. Because of Joseph's honesty and trust in the Lord, God was able to do great things in his life. God took Joseph from a pit to a prison to a palace. Let's read how because of Joseph's honesty, Pharaoh made him the second most important man in the region. (Read Genesis 41:38-46).
Yes, just as Joseph had earlier dreamed, God lifted him up and did mighty things in his life. Joseph's brothers would ultimately bow down to him just as Joseph told them they would. All this was possible because Joseph remained faithful, honest, and obedient to the Lord. Joseph's love for the Lord showed by his actions. If you love the Lord, let your actions show this to the world! Live honestly.