Many Christians know the story of Joseph, but how many people are aware of the model it provides for biblical success and moral character? It begins in Genesis 37 when Joseph was seventeen, tending sheep in the field.
As the story unfolds we see family hatred, an inability to talk to one another on friendly terms, jealousy, parental favoritism, and even a murder plot. If this isn't enough, Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. To say that Joseph grew up in a dysfunctional family and suffered abuse would be an understatement. Yet through all of this, as we shall see, he came out to be one of the most successful people in biblical history, and at a young age.
The slave traders dropped Joseph off into the company of Pharaoh, but this is where the blessings and success began. In spite of everything Joseph experienced, chapter 39 records in verses 2,3, and 21-23 that God's hand was upon everything he did, and tremendous blessing and promotion to a high position of leadership and responsibility followed.
In chapter 41 Pharaoh had a dream but none of Pharaoh's people could interpret it. It was learned that Joseph had a God-given gift to interpret dreams, so he was summoned before Pharoah. Verse 16 gives the account.
Next was a famine, and Joseph, because of his position of leadership given by Pharaoh, was in charge of food distribution. (See verses 41:55-57 and 42:6-7) So, Joseph's brothers who had mistreated him were forced to appear before him to buy food. Joseph had the final say. Joseph, however, was very generouos to them. But the story isn't over.
Later on his brothers were still afraid and said that Joseph might "bear a grudge against us and pay us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him." (50:15). Joseph's attitude, however, was one of rejoicing and victory that God's plan had prevailed. (50:20)
What biblical truths and practical success principles can be gleaned from this scenario?
1. Success often happens through adversity.
2. For success to happen, young men, you must rise above your past. Many of you have come out of very adverse family situations. You must deal with that, get past it, and move on.
3. God has a plan for your life.
4. You each have a unique gift to offer to God regardless of your past.
5. Success is a journey and a big leg of that journey is maturing spiritually, morally, and emotionally. There are two instances where Joseph displayed this.
In 39:7-10 Joseph, who was very handsome, was alone in the house. Pharaoh's wife wanted him to lay with her, but Joseph refused and fled. This is a lesson every young man can learn.
When Joseph's brothers came to get food from him he could have denied them the provision as a way of getting back, but he didn't.
Young men, success is not success, unless there has been moral, spiritual, and emotional maturity in the process. Joseph was blameless and without guilt throughout his entire journey of becoming successful. Absolutely nothing bad was said about him. Remarkable!
The story of Joseph is a living testimonial to what is recorded in 1 Timothy 4:12. "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."
Joseph is a bright shining star in the Bible! Surprised he was not mentioned among the few called "righteous"......
All of his Christian life was made possible by implementing another lesson John previously highlighted for us. Forgiveness and the resulting lack of bitterness. And trust in God!
All of which are made possible only by God and in our partnering in that!
Had he chose to hold resentment, the witness in his life would have come to a screeching halt! Forgiveness though tough, wins the day and paves the way for victory!
Once again, we see tangible evidence the Lord is right! "Forgive us of our debts as WE forgive others"!