Let’s get straight back into looking at the life of Joseph today. There are so many more gems here to be discovered, especially on the topic of Goodness.
We’ll remind ourselves of the true definition:
Being the same in one situation as another….
Hmmm, so let’s see now. Would Joseph behave the same way in a prison cell as he did at home as the favoured son?
Genesis 39 v 20-23
Genesis 40 v 16-23
Genesis 45 v 2-8
Genesis 50 v 20
Remember with stories like this it is useful to jot down what you observe and then how it applies to your situation. Use SOAP!
Some Ideas for O & A:
39 v 20-23 Goodness Brings God’s Favour
There was no wallowing in self-pity going on in this prison cell! It seems that Joseph was kept very busy looking after the other prisoners and again, being entrusted with a role of leadership. His whole life had been turned upside down once again and to make that harder to swallow, this had happened because of his integrity and goodness. But just like we saw with Elizabeth and Zechariah, Joseph chose to live a blameless life while he was waiting for God to bring justice to his situation. As a result He experienced God’s goodness and favour being poured out on Him, even in the middle of a dismal prison.
There may be times when it seems the fruit of goodness brings trouble into our lives initially, as we saw yesterday; but in these times we must have faith that God will bring blessing into our lives in His time and in His way.
Someone who learned this was Eric Liddell, the Olympic athlete and then missionary to China. By refusing to race on a Sunday, he missed out on the chance to win a gold medal in the 100 metres at the Paris Olympics in 1924. This made him unpopular with those who didn’t understand his integrity and felt he’d let his country down. However, God had bigger plans for blessing Him and using Him for His glory. He ran instead in the 400 metres, a distance that wasn’t his strength, and not only brought home the gold medal but broke the Olympic record.
Eric Liddell, like Joseph, knew it was important to do every task with a spirit of excellence. He demonstrated this in his duties in a World War II concentration camp where he died, and also in his running. He is quoted as saying
“God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
Do we feel God’s pleasure in all the tasks we do, whether big or small? Having this attitude to our school work, for example, can make a big impact on others!
40 v 16 – 23 Goodness tells the truth – even when it will hurt!
Joseph, through his gift of interpreting dreams, had been able to give the butler some good news. You can imagine the baker listening excitedly, hoping for a similar interpretation. However, Joseph knew that the baker’s dream had an opposite meaning. Rather than signalling his release, it suggested his execution was just around the corner. How would Joseph handle this? It was bad enough that the poor guy was going to lose his life, never mind having to spend the next while in prison worrying about it! Perhaps the ‘nice’ thing for Joseph to do would be to compromise a little on the facts. He could water it down a little and take the nasty edge off it. Time enough for the baker to learn his fate when he was called out of the cell. After all, it’s more important to make people feel good about themselves, rather than to hit them with hard truth. Right?
Not according to our definition of Goodness it isn’t….honesty and integrity mean telling the whole truth, even when it may be difficult.
Think about how this applies to sharing the gospel. It is so easy to water down what we know to be true from the Bible, simply because we feel it will be difficult for people to hear. However, if we truly love these people, we will realise that keeping the truth from them about the danger they are in with regard to their sins, is not kind or loving in the long run. Surely, at the end times they will ask how we could have known the truth and kept it to ourselves.
Pray today for those who you know are in danger, living their lives without God’s salvation. Pray that you may have opportunities to share the message of God’s love with them and will be brave enough not to compromise.
45 v 2-8, 50 v 20 Seeing God’s Goodness
It’s amazing how God brought Joseph from the pit to the prison and then to the palace, where he was eventually reunited with his brothers! These verses show such grace from Joseph as he reveals his identity to the brothers. How different this scene would have been if Joseph had spent that difficult period of almost 20 years dwelling on how badly he’d been treated and growing more and more bitter towards his brothers.
We might ask how had Joseph managed to keep such a good attitude during such difficult circumstances (and remember he hadn’t read the book….he didn’t know how his story was going to end up!). Perhaps the secret to Joseph’s goodness can be seen in v 8 and later in ch 50 v 20. Joseph knew all along that it was God who was ultimately in control of all circumstances, that although the brothers meant to harm him, God was overall in control and could bring good out of even the most cruel of times.
Remember Romans 8 and all our reasons to be joyful:
Whenever we find ourselves in difficult times, perhaps caused by the wrong attitudes and actions of others, let’s in those times focus on God’s goodness. He can bring good into our lives, even out of tragedy, if we will remain true to Him. As we focus on His goodness, it will start to reflect in our lives and the fruit of goodness that He has planted as a seed will grow!