Wednesday: Doing Relationship God’s Way
Initially Joseph’s story in Egypt takes a positive turn. Joseph has entrusted himself to God, and God blesses Joseph, who rises to heights he would not have imagined in Potiphar’s household.
In what practical ways could God’s blessings be seen in Joseph’s life? What are Joseph’s interpersonal relationships like? Read Genesis 39:1-6.
Although Joseph seems to be getting along very well with Potiphar, and his relationships among the staff in the house and on the field seem to be smooth — trouble is brewing. Someone at home is restless.
What relationship problem is Joseph facing? How does he choose to manage it? Read Genesis 39:7-10.
Joseph has a problem with Potiphar’s wife. Perhaps we should reformulate that: Potiphar’s wife has a problem. She looks at others as “things” that can be manipulated and used. She wants to “use” Joseph. Joseph is described as “handsome in form and appearance” (Genesis 39:6). The Bible seldom mentions people’s physical traits, because God “does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). In this case Joseph’s good looks seem to be more of a hinderance than a help in his pursuit of purity and faithfulness to God’s principles.
Despite this wicked woman’s insistence, Joseph does something seemingly counterproductive. He applies biblical principles to all relationships — in this case Potiphar’s wife. Biblical principles for relationships are not old-fashioned, as anyone (which is everyone) who has suffered the consequences of sin can attest.
The biblical narrative points out that this is not a one-off temptation. Potiphar’s wife pursued him again and again (Genesis 39:10). Joseph tried explaining his motivation for his decision ( Genesis 39.8-9) but this did not seem to work.
Joseph realizes that he cannot control the choices of others. He decides, however, to live, love, and treat those around him in a way that will honor God. Joseph has learned to live in God’s presence. This knowledge helped him resist temptation.
|Have you tried to apply biblical principles to all your relationships, even those where the other person is not “playing fair”? How did it work out? Read Matthew 5:43-48. Why is it important to live like this?|
The situation that Joseph found himself in is very similar to what has been exposed in the modern media and has been labelled with the "Me Too" meme. A person in a position of some sort of control taking advantage of someone who is working for them. Joseph was not in a good situation, He could have been killed for resisting Potiphar's wife and the fact that he only ended up in prison rather than being killed, apart from God's intervention, was probably because Potiphar knew what he was like. We rightly praise Joseph for his integrity and his morality.
There is another form of this same temptation today that I would like to mention. I call it the "Salami slicing" temptation technique. (Sorry about the non-kosher metaphor). Now-a-days many of us work in an environment with colleagues for long periods of time. In fact we often interact with our work colleagues more than we interact with our spouses. What starts as a casual contact, becomes a stop and chat during a break. Then you serve on a committee together and are assigned a project together because you have similar objectives. And so it goes on sometimes for years. You find yourself mentioning little things that happen at home, funny at first, but it migrates to talking about little annoyances. Then one day you accidentally touch one another while doing some photocopying, and you find the touch exhilarating. And so it goes ...
This is not a master-slave, boss-employee situation. It is the subtle work-colleague temptation and I dare say that most of us who have ever worked in a mixed gender employment situation would have faced the same temptation. You are tempted one slice at a time; each slice, not a moral dilemma in itself but ultimately building to the stage where you throw away your moral values. The "Salami slicing" temptation leads to more broken families than I care to count.
The "Salami slicing" temptation still requires the moral fibre that Joseph exhibited.
So what is the solution, Maurice? Back to the kitchen women? Keep men and women separate so they won't tempt each other? I have heard variations on what you've said and I certainly have seen situations like you describe arise. And yet, it bothers me to see male and female relations described as temptations that even the power of God can't redeem. I don't understand why this is. Jesus didn't avoid the women like Mary Magdalene who traveled with him, but He treated them with respect. Paul spoke with fondness of various women he ministered with. Why are we not able to relate to the opposite sex in healthy ways as Christians? From what I hear, we must either be guarded or risk falling morally. I think that is sad.
In my mind, sexual sin is not so different from any other sin. You want what isn't yours. And in these salami slicing scenarios you mention, is the problem that a warm relationship develops or that your mind goes where it shouldn't, even early on? We can avoid the situation, but if our heart isn't right, what good is it?
We are called to relate to each other as brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. That to me suggests that close relationships are good things, but they need to stay pure. Can God help us live this way? Or are we a slave to our hormones and attractions even as Christians?
Just thinking out loud.
Among other things, it helps if we understand a bit about the biology and biochemistry of attraction. I don't mean that we all need to become biochemists, but understand the role that our senses and chemistry play in our relationships and ensure that we know when we are getting into dangerous territory.
As a male, I know when a woman is flirting with me (not that it happens too much now that I am old and decrepit) and I have a choice, stay and enjoy it or move away from it. I could give examples, but some of my friends read what I write and may work out who I'm talking about. For my part, I worked very hard on ensuring that when I had to work closely together with a female colleague it was never alone. "Three's a crowd" and it is a good protection in the work environment.
I agree, we the man we must be alert of our nature, because now we live for Jesus
Perhaps we can understand Paul's counsel to "fight the good fight of faith"? From this there is no "time off".
Satan will ever be on the track of those seeking to please God, and will use every means to tempt their humanity. One moment off guard could lead to failure. Look at King David's situation from our lesson 2 weeks ago. Also, David and Bathsheba were not coworkers, and not in company with each other. So separation by gender isn't the answer either. Joseph remained pure through purpose and faith. This makes anyone safe anywhere, if recognizing when to flee, as Joseph did.
"Joseph entrusted himself to God". This was the foundation to Jospeh's life - just as it was for Jesus.
Is there any other truly viable foundation for life than this (John 6:57: 63; 68)?
Hello Phil - I can say with confidence - no, there is no other truly viable foundation for human life! In Biology, the definition of viable is: '(of a plant, animal, or cell) capable of surviving or living successfully, especially under particular environmental conditions.' [Oxford languages]
The Creator added His spiritual aspect to the physical environment in which human life unfolds and is viable, and this 'fact' excludes any other environment where life can be sustained.
Any relationship that is not based on Bible principles is destined to fail! It does not matter how strongly 2 people can hold together, if there is no true LOVE - and that can only have been given by Heaven, because LOVE is GOD and vice versa - the idea of keeping together is false! That can only occur because of some sort of physical comfort...
Genuine relationships, as anything in life, can only exist when they are based on moral and divine values.
There can be different kinds of love, but without the foundational love of God all that is built is on sand.
Maurice I agree with you, sin is subtle. Many times people starts out with no rime or reason then ends up in places and situations they did not plan to. For this and many other reasons why I always stated, I am being called a non socializer. We are no match for Satan. He has several ways to concur us no matter how strong we think we are. How many pastor and leaders has he concur in our present day. Look at the Israelites on the verge of entering the promised land.
Num 25:1-18. It started with a party.
Joseph didn't wake up one morning and suddenly have this fortitude to completely trust in God come what may. This trust was foundationally built from his childhood up. Joseph had learned to be faithful in the little things, so when the big thing came he was able to stand the test(actually several BIG things, sold as a slave by his brothers, accused of fornication by Potiphar's wife, thrown into prison again) this guy just couldn't catch a break. But because of his solid foundation laid by his mother and father he was able to stand firm in his trust in GOD. Even harkening back to yesterday's lesson about self esteem. If your foundation is solidly in Jesus then you won't have that struggle. Unfortunately so many of us don't have that foundation from a young age so we struggle as adults.
I'm still trying to wrap my brain around Jacob. Despite or in spite of his personal struggles he made sure his favorite son had a strong foundation in God. 10 maybe 11 of his other sons and 1 daughter suffered from major deficits BUT Joseph.
I think maybe they received the same foundation, however it took the others a little longer for it to sink in, as they say. The others did eventually come around after they got past their jealousy and envy.
Relationship takes a lot of time and one thing we must not loose sight of is the fact that we should be observant, wise as the serpent and harmless as dove. We are always admonished to be on our guard for Satan and his angels are on our track every moment. Sanctification - a fitness for heaven is continual obedience and there is no place where we will reach or have reached that we can say we are done. Perfection is an addition and not subtraction. The apostle Peter admonishes : But also for this very reason , giving all diligence , add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self - control, to self - control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness , and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound , you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1: 5 - 8.NKJV
Joseph as a type of Christ maintained his integrity and firmness by understanding addition. Therefore, in the pages of sacred history, Joseph stands prominent among the few characters of whom inspiration has recorded no faults. He received one of the three portions of the birthright. It's interesting to note that each part of that birthright has been immortalized. Joseph, separated from his brethren, surrounded by idolaters in a strange land, gained a victory which entitled him to the double portion of the inheritance. Two portions of the promised land were given to the family of Joseph ; and throughout eternity, these two divisions of that distinct company, --- the one hundred and forty four thousand, - bearing the names , one of Joseph and the other of Manasseh,the son of Joseph , will be a reminder of his faithfulness.
And to us who are living in these last days and in a World where Satan changes his temptations we are admonished : " We are in a world that is opposed to righteousness and purity of character, and to a growth in grace . Wherever we look we see corruption and defilement, deformity and sin. And what is the work that we are to undertake just previous to receiving immortality? It is to preserve our bodies holy, our spirits pure , that we may stand forth unstained amid the corruption teeming around us in these last days. The Spirit of God should have perfect control of us, influencing us in all our actions. 2 T 355 - 356. ( Egwritings.org )
And Paul concords the above when he said : That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation , among whom you shine as lights in the world. Philippians 2 : 15. NKJV
May the good Lord bless us all.
“The Lord was with Joseph” tells me all about Joseph and where his heart and conscience was. I do not know if his master knew anything about Joseph’s God, but he saw that his God caused ‘all he did to prosper in his hand.’
Maybe this awareness of being in God's hands is what his brothers saw also; becoming envious, they wanted him removed from their midst. I do not think that Joseph developed his trustworthy character only after his capture and enslavement. This account tells me that Joseph knew God and, placing his trust in Him, engaged in life confidently.
Is not trustworthiness one of the most appreciated character trades in a person? To have a relationship with a caring, trustworthy person means one has a true friend. When Joseph found wickedness knocking on his door in the form of Potiphar’s wife day by day, he had to find a way to deal with it effectively.
To compromise ones own integrity due to temptation is the greatest test our faith experiences; not standing up under/against the pressures to ‘come along to get along’ takes all the resolve one can muster.
Yes, it is difficult for us to wait upon the Lord by faith, but His promise tells us He rewards our patience – Isa.40:31KJV.
For me, the presence of integrity in a person’s character is very important; lying, deceptiveness, and the misuse of 'power' in daily affairs pose the greatest challenge to my sence of 'justice'.
“Expect the Best of yourself and others; be ready/willing to work with less – give Grace! This thought came to mind as I tried to help my teenage son deal with unfairness and pressures in his life; written down, it found its place on the side of my fridge where it has been for over 25 years to remind me and everyone else who reads it.
One of God’s greatest blessings is to be able to forgive and forget offenses, remembering that the sin is upon the offender's head, and that God will deal with sin in all its forms at His time and in His way, .
Knowing and believing this with all our heart, our conduct becomes compassioned and longsuffering (patient); giving opportunity to share God’s blessing of love to those around us.
I think that our new nature is all about learning to govern ourselves, and it appears that Joseph was successful doing so – because he love God and ‘the LORD was with him’.
God's blessings were such that Joseph's heathen master was able to recognize them, and this is acknowledged by Potiphar placing this Hebrew slave in charge of everything. Unheard of!
When tempted to depart from the law of God, Joseph firmly resisted, and remained faithful to the Lord who had brought him safely out of the pit, and blessed him and his master's household.
"Why is it important to live like this?"
Regardless of what happens to the righteous in this life, the final judgment of “every work...and every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil” will come to every soul(Eccl 12:13,14). Either we live to please God or ourselves, and the judgment will reveal which we chose in this life by the evidence of our works. Only "the meek shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace"(Ps 37:11).