This devotional is part of a series through the story of Joseph. You can read the whole series here.
The story of Joseph grabs our attention, especially if we work in government. Here is the story of a man who, literally overnight, was raised out of the depths of prison to become the ruler of all Egypt. We might wonder how Joseph managed to handle such a massive responsibility as the ruler and governor of a great nation. What prepared him for this? After all, Joseph was only 30 years old according to Genesis 41:46. What was it about Joseph that made him into the effective and successful chief executive of the land of Egypt?
To begin with, Joseph was faithful in his work, and people for whom he worked knew that they could trust him to look out for their interests. Jacob, Joseph’s father, obviously trusted Joseph when he sent him to see how his older brothers and their flocks were doing. Potiphar came to trust Joseph when he put Joseph in charge of everything that he owned. Even the prison keeper came to trust Joseph when he put him in charge of all the prisoners.
How did these people know that they could trust Joseph so completely? I believe it was because Joseph was like another very successful man who worked in government, Daniel. When Darius was forced by his own law to cast Daniel into a den of lions, Darius called out to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” Everyone knew that Daniel always served God. Surely, the same was true of Joseph. He lived out his faith, and we see this in Genesis 39.
Joseph ends up in Egypt because his brothers kidnapped and sold him to some Ishmaelites who were traveling to Egypt. They in turn sold 17-year-old Joseph to Potiphar, Pharoah’s captain of the guard. Joseph went from being the favorite son of Jacob to being the slave of an Egyptian. But despite all that he lost, Joseph’s heart and spirit were not crushed. Instead, he put his heart into serving Potiphar, and it must have been because he trusted and believed in God.
We see the proof of his faith later when Potiphar’s wife sees that Joseph, now in his early twenties, is a well-built, handsome young man, and she tells Joseph to come to her in her bed. Joseph refuses her order and explains that going to her would be a betrayal of his master, Potiphar, and it would be a sin against God. But she doesn’t stop. Day after day, she tries to seduce him, and Joseph keeps avoiding her.
Finally, one day when they are the only ones in the house, she grabs his garment. Realizing that he would not be able to resist her charms, he runs outside leaving her with his garment in her hands. Imagine the scene. Potiphar’s wife has Joseph’s clothes in her hands, and Joseph has just left the house without his clothes. What will she say to the other servants and to her husband? Joseph was no fool. He knew that she would lie, which she did. She said that Joseph tried to come into her bed, that she screamed, and that he ran out and left his clothes behind.
When Joseph ran out of the house with little on, he knew that this act might cost him his life, but he would not commit this sin against God because he lived to serve God. His desire to serve God was what made him such a good servant to Potiphar, and when he ended up in prison afterwards, it made him a good servant to the prison keeper as well.
Joseph’s faith produced this controlling desire to serve God. His faith also brought him to put his trust in God’s promise. While Joseph was still a teenager at home, God had given him two dreams that told him that one day he would be recognized as a great ruler even by his own family. Because God had promised Joseph a far better future, Joseph was prepared to humble himself to serve, even serving while in prison.
Perhaps Joseph’s faith may have revealed to Joseph how God is pleased to work, that is, how God delights to honor the one who makes himself the servant of all. Jesus said in Mark 11:43-45, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." The ones who humble themselves to serve others remind God of His Son, who humbled Himself to serve us.
Christ’s act of humble service was an act of love. He died on the cross for our sins so that we might live through faith in Him, and He did so in the confidence that He would rise again and that we also who believe would be raised to live with Him forever. We too are to believe in the promise that we have in Christ. We have the promise of forgiveness and of a great future with Christ in His kingdom, a future that is far greater than the one promised to Joseph.
Joseph faithfully and humbly served believing in God’s promise that one day he would rule, and he lived to see that promise fulfilled. We too, who believe and humbly serve, will live to see God’s promises to us fulfilled.
Rev. Dave Durant is the Operations Director for Ministry to State.