Though a twin, he was quite the opposite of his younger brother and ultimately became the heartache of the family. Ripped off by his brother and rejected by his family, he couldn’t win, no matter how hard he tried. As we shall soon discover, the Bible pulls no punches. And you may find several places in this story where you can identify with Esau, “the son who couldn’t win.”
We know that we are all sinful and in need of salvation, but often, we fail to consider that we bear the specific “bents” of our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. When we think about it, all of us must admit the direct link between the people we have become and the lives of those who formed our heritage—for good and for ill.
While you and I may not have the sculpting skills of Michelangelo we are able to use something even more powerful, our words.
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.