Joseph: A big word called Integrity

Joseph: Part 2 Integrity
The best definition of Integrity I’ve seen is by author John Maxwell: “Integrity is who you are when no one looking, and what you’re willing to stand up for even if you’re standing alone.”
Joseph’s Old Testament story reveals these maxims.
Today, we’re going to look at one example of integrity in Joseph’s life: Resisting Temptation.
First, let’s take a snapshot of Joseph’s life as a seventeen-old- young man.
In our earlier blog, we studied how Joseph was a pampered son of Jacob. He had ten older brothers. Let me just say that the brothers hated him with a deep bitterness because of Joseph’s favored son status as well as his irritating way of telling dreams in which his brothers bowed down to him.
Later, the jealous brothers caught him in the wilderness and planned to kill him. Instead, they threw him in a dry well, then later sold Joseph to a traveling caravan on its way to Egypt. It’s more than ironic that they sold his brother for twenty pieces of silver.
Joseph makes the 250-mile journey from Canaan to Egypt, probably shackled behind a dirty camel.
Meanwhile, Joseph had been taken down to Egypt and sold to a man named Potiphar.
Meanwhile. That word, meanwhile, jumps off the page. There’s a world of truth in that simple word. Meanwhile, Joseph was sold to an important Egyptian official, a man named Potiphar.
Joseph begins his life as a lowly foreign slave. I’ve always wondered what his first job was. He was at the bottom end of the pecking order. I’m convinced it was something like mucking out Potiphar’s stables or worse.
But Joseph didn’t stay there. Soon Potiphar noticed something: The LORD was with Joseph and everything he did prospered. Potiphar soon realized he had a cash cow in this Hebrew slave.
Over time, Joseph was placed in charge in charge of Potiphar’s house. Things picked up for our hero.
Then trouble showed up and her name was Mrs. Potiphar. Scripture states that “Joseph was well built and handsome.” My generation would have used the word “Stud”. Today, he would be called “hot.”
Mrs. Potiphar, who could be called a “cougar”, wanted to get her claws in young Joseph.
This PG-13 part of the story is clear
She made it clear what she wanted: to go to bed with Joseph.
This wasn’t a one-time proposition but occurred day after day.
I once shared this story at a rural church. During a break, a country farmer said to me, “Well, you can say the ol’ girl didn’t beat around the bush.”
She didn’t beat around the bush because as a powerful woman she was used to getting what she wanted, and she was obsessed with Joseph.
When she propositioned Joseph, he spoke one of the memorable parts of the story.: “My master has withheld nothing from me except you his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”
As I read this part of the story, I’m reminded of several points worth mentioning:
1. Joseph hadn’t forgotten where he came from.
2. Joseph remembered who he was.
3. Joseph knew that sin was against his God.
Back to our story: Joseph was in a pickle. He was a foreign slave hundreds of miles from home and the bosses’ wife wanted to have sex with him. Egypt had different morals and culture from how he’d been raised.
However, Joseph began a game of hide and seek in the house. He avoided Mrs. Potiphar whenever possible.
One day she evidently concocted a plot. All of the other household servants were gone and her husband was away at work. She cornered Joseph, grabbed him by his cloak, and said, “Come to bed with me.”
Joseph ran for his life, leaving his cloak behind. (He had a bad history with his coats!)
Here’s another lesson: Joseph didn’t tiptoe around sin. He ran.
So often, regardless of the type of temptation, men and women tiptoe around the edge and are surprised when we fall in.
The best thing to do when temptations show up is to follow Joseph’s example: run for your life.
One of my favorite stories comes from my friend, Dr. Bill Thorn. He was speaking in a church that had children’s church. This is the portion of the worship service when the children gather on the steps for a mini-sermon. Dr. Thorn related that he was telling the story of Daniel in the lion’s den. He asked the children, “What would you do if you saw a lion?”
A precious little girl in a starched dress raised her hand and Dr. Thorn gave the microphone to the girl. She said, “I’d scream and run like hell”.
Dr. Thorn replied, “That sounds like a good thing to do.”
Our hero Joseph, when Mrs. Potiphar grabbed his cloak and pulled him toward her bed, he ran like hell.
That brings us to a final lesson from Genesis 39: Joseph had made us his mind ahead of time to do the right thing.
I have a list in my journal of “My Irrevocable No’s.” Here are two of mine:
1. I will not cheat on my wife.
2. I will not mishandle God’s money.
These are decisions I made a long time ago. Writing them down serves as a mirror in my life.
Joseph made the right decisions. If you read the remainder of Genesis 39, you’ll see that instead of being rewarded, Joseph’s right actions led to a prison cell.
I’m reminded of the quote, “What’s right is not always popular, and what’s popular isn’t always right.”
We’ll pick up his integrity of being trustworthy in our next blog.
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