Background Scripture: Genesis 39:3-12
Quotes of the Week:
Most people would like to be delivered from temptation but would like it to keep in touch.
In a 2011 Survey on Top Temptations faced by Americans , these were the conclusions.
Perhaps it isn't a sexual temptation that you deal with. There are people that are tempted to make a quick return on their investment, regardless of whatever it takes to make that happen. Businessmen and businesswomen can be very unscrupulous, due to financial temptations. Other people may be tempted to gossip about things, in that they receive some sort of power or recognition by sharing their stories. This is often seen in churches, where there is a high standard in righteous living that is expected. When someone fails, they become the seeds of a gossip tree that can spread far and wide. This certainly is not to condone any failure, but it can become that the gossip that follows a failure is much worse than the failure itself. There are so many people that are outside of church, dealing with their own issues and when they see church members attacking one another, it only goes to show that they really don't want to be part of that group.
There are also the other classes of temptations that tend to pull us away from what we desire in life. If you are in a difficult work environment that begins to talk about layoffs, there is the temptation to be involved in all sorts of discussions that are detrimental to your own work performance. If you are trying to stay on a diet, there is the temptation to eat sweets that work against your goals. If you feel better when you buy things, there is the temptation to spend more on 'things' than the amount of money you have in the bank. Temptations impact all of us, and we all have a choice to give in or stand firm. In this lesson, we'll see how Joseph was tempted in a sexual way by Potiphar's wife.
It wasn't just that the Lord was with Joseph, but his master, Potiphar, also saw this. Potiphar clearly saw that there was something different about Joseph and that he was successful in everything he did. Potiphar took note of Joseph and brought him as his own attendant. If you have watched any of the show Downton Abbey, you know about the personal valets and ladies maids of the family. This is not what Potiphar did in taking Joseph. He actually put Joseph in charge of his household and entrusted to him everything that he owned. The Lord continued to bless Potiphar's household because of Joseph. This blessing impacted everything Potiphar had in the house and in the field.
We read the next part about Joseph that he was well-built and handsome. This must have turned a few heads, not only due to the rags to riches story of Joseph, but also his physical appearance. Over time, Potiphar's wife took notice of Joseph and said "Come to bed with me!". It would seem likely that she had tried to coax Joseph in subtle ways in the past, but since that hadn't worked, she took a particularly brazen approach. This is much how sin and temptation works today. It doesn't often begin so overtly, but as we accept things, little by little, we allow the opening for a full blown attack.
Perhaps Potpihar's wife listened and moved on. But, we read in verse 10 that she spoke to Joseph day after day. There was no way that he could avoid her altogether, but Joseph took care to ensure that he was not alone with her.
Once again, Joseph tried to do the right thing. However, Potiphar's wife was unrelenting and kept pushing herself on him. Joseph did the right thing by turning and running, as opposed to giving in. However, Joseph's rocky circumstance in life was going to continue, as we will see in later chapters.
We read that Potiphar took note of how the Lord was working in Joseph's life. Again, the question comes back to each of us. What do others around you see in how you live your life? I would venture to say that others are more concerned in seeing how we respond to issues in life, rather than just seeing our successes. Potiphar likely had heard the story of Joseph, but I would imagine it may have been shared only as background, as opposed to the focus. I believe that our friends, associates, neighbors and co-workers are more interested in seeing how we move forward than how much we look back. I have often thought about collateral damage, where the impact of a weapon can cause damage to more than the target. Have you ever thought about how we are either bringing collateral benefit or collateral damage to those around us? This is largely based on how we handle problems in life. Are you bringing benefit or damage to those around you?
As Joseph was focused on where God was leading, Potiphar saw a man that was capable and he put Joseph in charge of much. I truly believe that if Joseph had given in to the temptation to dwell on the past, Potiphar never would have elevated Joseph. One part of the Lord being with Joseph was that Joseph was more concerned about where the Lord was leading as opposed to where he had been.
We read that Potpihar's wife persisted in trying to win Joseph over. Joseph took active steps to ensure that he would not be alone with her in order to guard the situation. It is amazing how strong we think we are. There are some things that many of us would say that we would never ever do, and because of that, we often allow ourselves to be put into compromising situations. If you knew that you were under attack, would you let an enemy into your house? You would certainly set up some guards to keep that from happening. However, some people would assume that they are immune to giving in, so they allow themselves to be tempted openly. What guards do you need to put up in your life? In what areas are you tempted, and what do you need to do to help yourself deal with those temptations or to remove those temptations from your life? If Joseph had not been so diligent, the outcome of this story may have been very different.
Note that Joseph did nothing wrong in this story. He setup boundaries to protect himself from giving in to temptation, but it led to more problems. There are times when in attempting to do the right thing, you may suffer consequences, as we will see in Joseph's life. The consequences that he suffered, however, were much less than what we he would have had to live with, had he given in. Even if he hadn't been found out, how would we feel when he was around Potiphar, knowing that he had slept with Potiphar's wife? And, more importantly, how would he feel knowing that the Lord had given him such success and he took it for granted, in giving into his own temptations?
Perhaps you can relate to one or more of these areas. Maybe at some point, you did give in and whether you were found out or not, you have to deal with what you have done. Those types of failures in our own lives can cause us great grief personally. Relationships can be destroyed because of something that we know is stupid and should have been avoided. We all know of the problems associated with giving into temptation, as it impacts us either personally or with others in our lives. As believers, we desire to live a life that is pleasing to God. Resolve once again to live for Him and to do whatever you need to do to give yourself that success to avoid the downfalls that can impact you personally or with others. Know that the Lord desires to be with you - do you desire to be with the Lord?