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.
Joseph: A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness
A very long time ago truth ruled in Egypt, no longer dressed in a shepherd's multicoloured coat, but wearing the royal robes of a prime minister. As we study the life of this remarkable man, Joseph, we'll discover that he was the embodiment of some of the most significant truths in all of Scripture. When faced with a temptation that could have destroyed his character, he resisted and ran. When mistreated, misunderstood, and forgotten, he forgave. When discouraged and lonely, he remained faithful and upbeat. When promoted to prominence, he maintained his humility. From one chapter to the next, you will literally shake your head in amazement.
That's the way it is when mere humanity personifies divine truth. May this series become alive and practical in your life.
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.
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.
Joseph was one of the greatest men of the Bible. Joseph’s attitude set him apart. Joseph displayed greatness not because of some miraculous actions, but because he demonstrated a daily positive attitude toward God and others. And his example stands as a challenge for us today.
The story of Joseph provides a moving example not just of reconciliation but of long-awaited reunion. Studying the reunion of Joseph and Jacob reminds us of that joyful day when we will be united with our heavenly Father. As we wait for the reunion of the family of God, how do we prepare? This lesson explores how we should live today in light of eternity.
Can you be a person of integrity and a successful business person at the same time? A Christian should be. Christians are to demonstrate how God would negotiate a deal, try a case, diagnose an illness, teach a class, or build a building. Joseph is a perfect example—he demonstrated integrity in every aspect of his life. And by observing his business life, we’ll learn how to order our priorities and test our motives.
The story of Joseph’s life—his journey from the pit to the pinnacle—leaves us in awe. Few have known such highs and lows, and fewer still have lived a life so full of grace and forgiveness. If we choose to follow Joseph’s example, our lives can be marked by such noble traits, creating a spiritual legacy for those who come after us. What greater memory could we leave to those who love us than that of a life well lived—full of grace and truth?