Have you ever been tempted? I mean, has there ever been something that seemed really good that you wanted to do, but knew you shouldn’t? If you are like most people, you have been tempted with doing something wrong, probably on a daily basis. Of course, you have probably given in to some of those temptations throughout your life. I know I have. It can be as simple as eating unhealthy, or as complicated as having an affair. Today I read part of the story of Joseph. (If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll remember that he is one of the sons of Jacob–the guy with all the wife-drama.) The beginning of Joseph’s story is found in Genesis 37, where he is given a “coat of many colors,” makes his older brothers jealous, and is sold into slavery and sent to Egypt. However, in chapter 39 we get a glimpse into how things are going with him in Egypt. He becomes the servant of a wealthy man named Potiphar, who trusts Joseph so much that he leaves “everything he had in Joseph’s charge” (39:6b). But then we are told that Joseph is handsome and Potiphar’s wife gets a huge crush on him. She pursues him and secretly begs him to sleep with her. Here is his response:
But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has son concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? (Genesis 39:8&9)
Isn’t that incredible? This young, handsome, slave-boy is given free-reign over a man’s household (everything but the man’s wife) and even she offers herself to him. Most young men in that situation would have given in to that temptation at least once, at least enough to get themselves into a lot of trouble. But Joseph doesn’t. His response communicates his deep respect for his master, his mature understanding of his responsibility, and most importantly, his reverence for God’s holiness. He immediately recognizes that sleeping with another man’s wife, especially his master’s, would be a terrible offense against the man, but also against God. Even with this response proving himself as a man of integrity, Potiphar’s wife still persists. One day she finds herself alone with Joseph in the house and grabs hold of his clothes, trying to persuade him, but he runs away so quickly and with such force that she tears off his clothes. Of course, this really irritates her and she uses his clothing as fake evidence in the lie she tells her husband about Joseph trying to force himself on her. Even though Joseph behaved righteously, his master believed the lie and had him thrown in prison (where he actually prospered as well).
We live in a world full of temptation and for every temptation that exists, there seem to be hundreds of people encouraging others to give in. Certainly, we can watch tv for about 30 seconds and see scores of people whose lives have been seriously messed up as a result of doing the wrong things. However, the number of people whose lives have been ruined by doing the right things is a much smaller number. However, Joseph’s story shares with us at least two truths about fleeing from temptation:
1) fleeing from sin & temptation is always possible (there’s always a way to escape)
2) sometimes the consequences of resisting temptation can seem worse than the consequences of giving in
I hope that you are as encouraged as I am by Joseph’s story and motivated to trust in God to provide a way out when you are tempted. I hope you remember that although doing the right thing may be painful in the short-term, over time you will never regret resisting the temptation. Also remember that sin is often gradual and deceptive by nature; it only takes one tiny, properly placed spark to start a raging wild fire that leaves nothing but destruction in its path. The same principle can also be applied to acts of righteousness and integrity; we all have to start somewhere.
Have any other insights into this topic/Joseph’s story/my conclusions?
Please COMMENT below. God bless!