Above All Else

          In Genesis chapter 37 we learn about Jacob’s son Joseph. Jacob loved Joseph most of all his sons and displayed this by making him a robe of ornate colors (Gen. 37:3). This planted the seed of envy in Joseph’s brothers and after he told them of dreams where they would bow to him, his brother’s sought a way to kill him. Joseph’s eldest brother Reuben tried to save him by convincing the other brothers to throw him in a pit, where He would come by later to get him. While he was away, however, his other brothers sold Joseph to a caravan of slavers that passed by. Joseph was brought into the land of Egypt and sold to one of Pharoah’s officials named Potipher (Gen. 37:12-36).

            While Joseph was with Potipher, God had blessed him and he eventually rose in status until he became the official’s personal attendant (Gen. 39:4). Potipher’s wife eventually took notice of Joseph and tried to seduce him into committing adultery. Day after day she would talk to him and Joseph would always refuse her. One day she grabbed Joseph and commanded him to sleep with her and as Joseph fled she grabbed his cloak and it was left behind. In anger she used this to frame him and had him sent to jail (Gen. 39:20). Chapters 40 and 41 of Genesis reveal that Joseph spent at least more than two years in prison. God was still with him and eventually Joseph met Pharoah and serviced him directly.

            While serving Pharoah, Joseph had two sons and was able to stored up food for seven years while the land in Egypt was very fertile. After those years, a famine ensued across many lands and eventually made it way to Egypt. Jacob saved countless lives by selling off the stockpiled food, and eventually his father sent his brothers into the land of Egypt to buy grain. Joseph eventually meets his brothers and was not angry at them. He excused himself to cry secretly and then inquired about his father. After some back and forth over a couple of meetings, Joseph reveals himself and says, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God.”

            Joseph maintained a close relationship with God and adhered to His standard after suffering betrayal, slavery, being framed, and put into prison for years. Joseph could have scorned God and envied those who had better lives than he did while he was suffering, but he chose to see righteousness as the solution to get him through his trials and not the cause of them (James 1:2-15). He was not a slave to his emotions but chose to trust God, becoming a slave and righteous example to the Egyptians. His confidence in God allowed him to choose prison over the peer pressure to divulge into sinful actions with Potiphar’s wife, or even sinful practices while he served Pharoah (1 Cor. 4:1-5). Joseph’s trust in God was so strong that it lead him to choose to forgive his brothers and view his suffering through a righteous lens. Above all else, Joseph chose to believe in God and live according to His standards. As a human he probably had moments of tense emotions, but he did not let them lead him into sin.

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:16-18) Will we choose to become deceived and turn from righteousness because of the world or our emotions? Or, above all else will we choose to trust God and count it all as joy?