Wisdom and Temptation (II)

Written by Myles MacMillan.

“So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while, his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.” (NIV) Genesis 39:6-10

Potiphar was an Egyptian official who had purchased Joseph after his brothers had sold him into slavery. We see from this account that Joseph had found himself in a position of great responsibility as a slave, looking after everything going on in his master’s household. Joseph found himself in a position where it would have been easy to compromise on his faith. He had an opportunity to sleep with his master’s wife and from a fleshly standpoint, he must have had some type of temptation to go through with it but something held him back.

We see the wisdom of Joseph shine through as he explains his reason for not sleeping with Potiphar’s wife in verse 9 when he says, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Joseph was focused on doing what was right in the eyes of God and that was the motivation for his wise decision. Joseph’s attitude is a good example of how the bible is instructing us to live in 1 John 2:15-17 which says: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world -the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

If Joseph had been focused on “the lust of the flesh”, he would have succumbed to this temptation but he was instead focused on doing the right thing, which was the will of God. Do we have this same focus when we are faced with temptation? It’s easy to see the truth now but when we are out in the world and faced with a similar choice, what will we do? Joseph made up his mind not to compromise and stuck to it “day after day” (Genesis 39:10). We need to make up our minds now to do “the will of God” (1 John 2:17) in all our decisions. May God give us the wisdom and strength we need to make him the priority in all we do and give us His grace when we fail to live up to who we need to be.

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