“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us-yes, establish the work of our hands”. (Psalm 90:17 NIV)
Joseph was a great man and rose from the position of a slave to that of a prime minister. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Lives of great people all remind us we can make our lives sublime; and, departing, leave behind us footprints in the sand of time.” What footprints did Joseph leave? His story is told in Genesis Chapters 37-50.
Joseph had a noble character. He was obedient, faithful, and diligent in his work. When he was sent by his father to check on how his brothers were faring, he searched far and wide from Sechem where Jacob thought they were grazing the animals to Dothan, many kilometers away. And even as a slave and as a prisoner he worked hard at whatever he was tasked to do and was put in charge because his supervisors saw that saw that “the LORD gave him success in everything he did.”(Genesis 39:3).
Joseph was not embittered by the betrayal of his brothers who sold him into slavery or even wrongful imprisonment arising out of Potiphar’s wife false accusation. He worked with diligence as Potiphar’s slave and at every task he was given in prison. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters (Colossians 3:23). We learn from him that hard work is a pathway to peace and inner joy. “Any mans life will be filled with constant and unexpected encouragement if he makes up his mind to do his level best each day”. Booker T. Washington
Joseph showed us that wherever we work we should work with a conscience. He showed us how to resist and deal with temptation and not compromise our integrity. Faced with sexual harassment from Potiphar’s wife, he tried as much as possible to avoid her and fled when confronted. He was faithful and true to his master who had placed so much responsibility and trust on him. Though he suffered imprisonment for sticking up to his morality, he did it because there is a higher court of justice which supersedes all other courts: that of God. A free conscience supersedes fleeting happiness and material gains.
Joseph was kind and caring. One morning when he noticed that two of his co-prisoners - the cupbearer and master baker were dejected, he offered to help them. “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as you ever can.” John Wesley. Two years later, this act of kindness led him to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and onto his high position of authority. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted”. Aesop. His humility was shown in his advice to Pharaoh. He did not even suggest himself as the man with the spirit of God. He just told Pharaoh to get “a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:33) In all his accomplishments including his power to interpret dreams, he gave all the glory to God. “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” Genesis 46:16. Do you give God all the Glory for all he has enabled you to do?
Joseph was magnanimous and forgiving of his brothers who had done him great harm. He worked for their reconciliation. He chose to believe that God always works for the good of those who trust in him, He said, says, “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. Genesis 45: 5. “Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting”. William Arthur Ward. Such faith in God was his source of joy and security even in the midst of all his tribulations.
There is a reason why you are where you are. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
“I love the man that can smile in trouble that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. It’s the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death”. Thomas Paine