Scripture reference: Genesis 39:7-20
Much of what we know about God, we learn from the Bible through narratives or stories. The story of Joseph in Genesis is one of my favorite narratives in the Bible. There are so many good lessons in life to learn from Joseph. Undoubtedly, he was one of the most determined and godly men of the Bible.
Sold into slavery as a youth by his jealous brothers, his troubles did not end there. He was falsely accused and framed by Potiphar’s wife because he would not give in to her immoral demands. Being the ruler’s wife, people believed her lie about Joseph and he went to prison. The fact that Joseph was willing to suffer imprisonment rather than do something against God and himself, shows that he certainly was an unusual character.
In some of the classes I teach, when it is appropriate with what we are studying, I ask my students, “When is it okay to tell a lie?” Rarely do students say that it is never appropriate to lie. What they do say is that it is okay to lie when (1) it saves your hide or (2) if it does not hurt anyone. It is a bit scary to think we have brought up a generation of young people who are so self-motivated that they would lie when it is convenient. Such an attitude is contrary to the Bible and uncharacteristic of the portrait of Joseph in the Bible.
Why is that kind of character Joseph showed lacking in so many people today? Where are the Josephs of our society? It is not just young people who lack character; it goes deeper than that. After having lived in church-owned homes for about twenty-five years, my wife and I are now homeowners. We are learning how difficult it is to get quality work done. In one case a three-day job lasted six weeks; but the man doing the work told me, “I will not take another job until I finish your work.” He may have worked twelve hours at my house during that six-week period, and he left the job unfinished and in a big mess.
What is going on? There may be many reasons that we are seeing a lack of integrity around us, but it appears that (1) the desire for money has taken over; (2) many have forgotten that there is a judgment at the end of this life; (3) so many people are undisciplined and lazy; (4) one’s word, for some, is meaningless; (5) God’s Word seems to be something many people talk about but soon forget.
Where are the Josephs of today who are willing to sacrifice something to maintain integrity? How far will one go to maintain integrity or strength of character? Joseph was willing to be arraigned and sent to prison for what he thought was right. Joseph’s story had a good ending — he was exonerated, made wealthy, and promoted to a position of high honor. That is not always the case. Paul the apostle was honest; he died.
Not everyone who demonstrates strength of character will find wealth and honor. Sometimes there is death. How strong are you? Almost all Christians will say it is right to be like Joseph. But when it comes test time, where will you stand?