Formations Lesson for September 7: "Practicing Faithfulness: Fleeing Temptation"
August 22 2003 by John Norman Jr. , Genesis 39:1-20

Formations Lesson for September 7: "Practicing Faithfulness: Fleeing Temptation" | Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Formations Lesson for September 7: "Practicing Faithfulness: Fleeing Temptation"

By John Norman Jr. Genesis 39:1-20

Joseph's spiritual roller coaster ride began when his siblings decided to have some fun with the troublemaking younger brother.

Because the brothers had enough of his bragging about dreams of fame and fortune, they decided to do away with him by throwing him into a pit. Then, as traders passed by on their way to Egypt, the brothers (except Reuben) sold Joseph to the traveling merchants and pocketed 20 pieces of silver. However, Joseph's story does not conclude with the close of Genesis 37, for it appears that the God of Abraham and Sarah had other plans for the young man from Canaan.

Joseph in Charge (Genesis 39:1-6a) If you look at a map, Egypt is not geographically too distant from the land where Joseph began his journey. But spiritually, the distance Joseph traveled would be like going from Raleigh to Timbuktu.

Far from his father and his family, Joseph was "taken down to Egypt," where he was sold to one of the Pharaoh's officers by the name of Potiphar. Away from everything he held near and dear to his heart, Joseph must have wondered if God was also absent in that strange place. Yet, God was with Joseph in his new home.

Everything that Joseph touched turned to gold. As a result of this ability, Potiphar placed Joseph in charge of his household, which literally made him second in command.

This place of prominence afforded Joseph great opportunity, for when he spoke, it was as if Potiphar himself were speaking. However, not only did the place of power bring privilege, it also brought temptation. Just when Joseph thought things were going wonderfully right, they once again turned terribly wrong.

The Accusation (Genesis 39:6b-18) Whether we want to admit it or not, we judge people by their outward appearance. No matter if they are short or tall, small or large, we often determine their worth as human beings by the way they look on the outside. Even though Joseph's golden touch made Potiphar's home prosperous, the lady of the house determined that his worth to her was of the intimate variety.

Potiphar's wife judged Joseph on the fact that he was "handsome and good looking." When Joseph would not succumb to her advances, he became the focus of a smear campaign and was accused of attempted rape. To make matters worse, because Joseph was a Hebrew, and thus a slave and a foreigner, he was not given the chance to defend himself against the false accusations.

In the Pits Again (Genesis 39:19-20) I have seen a poster that reads something like this, "Being popular does not make you right and being right does not make you popular." This seems to sum up the situation Joseph faced when he found himself standing alone before Potiphar's judgment and suffering the consequences of having done the right thing. Once again, it was as if Joseph was in a hole.

As Christians, we all face temptations in our lives. There isn't a day that goes by that we are not tempted by something.

Many Christians see this reality as a defeat of their spiritual character, believing that if they are tempted, then they must not be spiritual enough. Others believe they can handle temptation on their own, without any divine guidance to assist them.

Two things about Joseph's encounter with Potiphar's wife need to be remembered. One, even the spiritual elites are tempted - no one escapes. Remember that Jesus was tempted, too. The thing that sets Christians apart from non-Christians is not whether we are tempted, but what we do in response to that temptation.

Second, even though we flee from temptation as Joseph did, we may still wind up in the pits. For that reason we must rely on God's spirit not only to help us refrain from temptation, but also help us with the consequences of being faithful.

Like Joseph, we want God to be with us in good times and bad. In the face of temptation, we are called to be faithful to our God and to that which is right and true.

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8/22/2003 12:00:00 AM by John Norman Jr. , Genesis 39:1-20 | with 0 comments
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