Joseph was busy as he kept Potiphar’s household running well. He had Potiphar’s favor, and most likely the favor of all who were in his household, including Potiphar’s wife. Favor soon turned to lust and Potiphar’s wife demanded that he sleep with her.
Joseph was working hard with little time for himself, didn’t he deserve some pleasure? After all, she was enticing him and making herself very available. No one would ever know. With the favor of all who were in the household, nobody would tell Potiphar, and besides that, his family was far away, they would never know.
How many things have I done because I felt justified?
What have I done out of blaming others?
What choices have I made because, “No one will ever know?”
Joseph could have chosen any one of these responses.
“But Joseph refused. Look, he told her, My master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” Genesis 39:8-9
Joseph looked beyond himself, beyond his position, beyond others, and saw the big picture. He recognized who he was, what had been entrusted to him, and how great a sin against God it would be. He stood for his convictions and didn’t waver no matter how much she pressured him.
Then one day…
With no one around, Potiphar’s wife approached Joseph. She grabbed him by his robe and demanded him to sleep with her. Joseph tore himself away, leaving his robe in her hands, and ran from the house.
Finding herself with his robe in her hands she called out to her servants and told them that Joseph had come to her room to rape her. She told them that her scream sent Joseph running, but in his hurry he left his robe.
She repeated her story to her husband when he came home, showing him Joseph’s robe to prove it. Potiphar was furious when he heard what happened to his wife, how Joseph had treated her. He took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held.
No chance to defend himself.
No witnesses to prove him innocent.
Joseph had been thrown down into a pit.
Joseph had gone down to Egypt.
Joseph was sold down as a slave.
Joseph was taken down into a prison.
Once again Joseph found himself stripped of his robe and thrown down.
“Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in a iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.” Psalm 105:17b-19
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:3-4
Before every testimony there is a test.
As with tests in school, God’s tests come in all shapes and sizes. The purposes of God tests are to test your character and your faith. They are intended for your good; to refine and improve your character, to stretch and increase your faith. And because God tests are intended for your good, even when you fail, there is always opportunity to take the test again. And just like any test, the more you go over the material, the better you understand what is being taught.
Joseph was given many tests with similar material. He was faced with jealousy, hatred, greed, lust, blame. With each stripping of his robe, and each throwing down he received, Joseph was faced with the battle of his flesh and the battle of his soul. The choice to defend self, or to die to self. The choice to doubt God or to trust God.
The battlefield is in the mind.
God had given Joseph two dreams showing him lifted up, while others bowed down before him. Yet, there he was, down in a prison.
Throughout my life I have faced all sorts of tests where my character and my faith were tested. I’m sure I have passed some tests, but I know I have failed many. I have justified my answers. I have blamed others for my answers. And I have answered questions believing that no one would know. I have focused on myself, defended myself, and I have relied on my own understanding, with no thought of the bigger picture or the good that was intended.
“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12
But, praise God for His amazing grace! God is for me and has allowed me to take some tests over and over. The Holy Spirit has gently instructed me and guided me into God’s truth. He has opened my eyes to see the lies I believed and the tests I have failed because of them. He has replaced those lies with His truth and that has made all the difference in the world! Knowing His truth by studying His word has helped me to understand His ways, to die to self, trust God, and therefore I have actually passed some tests!
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” Isaiah 55:8
“Father, thank You for what You have taught me about the purposes of the tests I face. Though I haven’t always been aware before, I see now how they have been intended for my good; to refine my character, and to increase my faith. Because You are for me and Your ways are beyond anything I could ever imagine I choose to trust You no matter what test I face. Thank You for this example of Joseph that I can learn from; that no matter how many tests I face, no matter how impossible my dreams may seem, there is a bigger picture. When I keep my eyes on You and trust You I will come through the test with greater character, increased faith, and with a testimony that will give glory and praise to You!”