Truly great men seem few and far between these days. Men are either effeminate, or they seem to be animalistic. This is why it is so refreshing to come across a man who stood up for truth, purity, honesty, and sacrifice. Recently I’ve been studying the life of Joseph from the Bible. What God has shown me is amazing. Joseph went through trial after trial – hatred from his brothers, slavery, false accusation, and imprisonment – and yet continually trusted God. And the Lord worked through him in every situation.
You very likely know the story of Joseph. If you don’t though, here’s the story at whirlwind speed. Joseph was his father’s favorite son, sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, and who was purchased by one of Pharaoh’s military leaders. However, when Joseph was accused of trying to sleep with his master’s wife, he was thrown into prison, and kept there for some time. When the head baker and head wine taster for Pharaoh were thrown into prison with Joseph, they both had dreams which he interpreted correctly (or rather the Lord did it through him). Joseph, though, was forgotten until one day when the King had a dream and none of his wise men were able to interpret it. The wine taster remembered Joseph, Joseph was sent for, and he interpreted the dream. He explained that there were going to be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh was so pleased, he placed the former prisoner in charge of the entire kingdom!
Joseph worked hard storing up grain until the famine hit. When it did, he was ready. And then, lo and behold, his brothers appeared looking for food (the famine wasn’t just in Egypt)! They didn’t recognize him, and, after putting them through several tests, he finally reveals to them who he really is – their brother!
There are endless lessons we could learn from the life of Joseph. However, here are five that we can apply to our everyday lives.
1. Give your best wherever you are!
Joseph not only worked hard as a slave (and then as Pharaoh’s second in command), he put everything he had into every job. He held nothing back. God blessed him, and he was given commanding positions of authority in every area of his life.
2. Real men show humility.
Joseph did not take the credit for anything. He gave it to God. Genesis tells us multiple times that “whatever he [Joseph] did, the Lord made it succeed” (Gen. 39:23). Joseph acknowledged to Pharaoh that interpreting the dream was not his own work, but God’s.
3. Sometimes in life we need to wait.
After Joseph interpreted the head baker and wine taster’s dreams, they were released and promptly forgot about him (although the head baker was hanged, so he didn’t have much opportunity to talk about Joseph). Joseph stayed in prison for two more years after that! That’s a long time! Often times in life God wants us to wait on something. It may be to teach us patience or to show us something about ourselves. Whatever the reason, use the “waiting time” to grow closer to God and serve him.
4. Circumstances in our lives may not be what they appear.
Joseph’s circumstances in life seem pretty horrible at the beginning of the story. Joseph realized though that God uses each and every thing that happens to us for His glory and for our good! Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”
5. Be bold rather than bitter.
We may not always feel like life is “fair”. We can either choose to be bitter or we can pursue life with boldness. Joseph didn’t allow what could have made him extremely bitter (his brothers’ selling him, being forgotten by the wine taster and baker, for example) to affect him. He pursued God and life with a passion, not allowing his circumstances to drag him down.
- What are some ways you’re standing up for truth, purity, honesty, or any other character quality?
- Joseph faced many trials, yet didn’t allow them to drag him down. Are you allowing your trials to rule over you, or have you determined to keep pursuing God and living life passionately?
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