[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
We all want to be used by God. We want to do exploits for the Lord and win many for His kingdom. Many dream of going to faraway nations to minister the Gospel and win many souls for the kingdom of God. Many are called but few are chosen! What makes God choose one and not another. We are all loved by the Father and He created all of us with such love. The Bible tells us in Psalm 139 verse 14 that we are fearfully and WONDERFULLY made. We will all agree though that as much as He fashions all of us in and with love He does not choose all of us for His mighty works. He chose Noah out of a multitude of people. What set him apart? What set David apart to be called a friend of God? Out of all his brothers why did God choose Joseph?
The world’s way of doing things is “I don’t care who I hurt on my way to the top”; “It’s nothing personal it’s just business.” People adopt a belief that to succeed in life you have to stab people in the back! You have to be just as corrupt as the next person if not more to succeed because if you are not corrupt you will not get far! This is how the world thinks and as we all know God’s ways are different to the world’s ways.
How we treat others
God is very interested in how we treat others. He is concerned about our behaviour especially when it comes to those who cannot fight for themselves; those who are in a position of helplessness.
In Luke 10:27 we read a verse that has been known and memorised by millions of Christians through the generations. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart mind and soul. You shall love your neighbour as you love yourself.
For God to ultimately use you in greater assignments He tests you. We all go through His school of pruning. When we look at the Bible we see that all the great men and women of faith went through a process of great trials. It was these very trials that shaped their character and brought them to their destinies. Their interactions and relationships with others revealed their character and integrity. When they passed these tests God promoted them into their various responsibilities.
There are many examples in the Bible that one can choose from but I want us to study some of the character traits that Joseph had that made God choose him instead of His brothers. Joseph was young and unmarried when God began to appear to him in his dreams but he lived his life in relation to others in a way we can all learn from. These are the very qualities that we still must have in our lives if we want to be close to the Father.
From Genesis 37 – 50, we learn about the story of Joseph and his family! We learn how he was favoured by his father; how his brothers hated him and sold him as a slave. We also learn of his time in Egypt and how he found favour wherever he went. We are exposed to the challenges that he went through with Potiphar’s wife and how her lies landed him in jail. God gifted him with the special skill of interpreting dreams and it is this skill and gift that eventually got him out of prison to be the second in command in Egypt. Through the struggles of Joseph from when he was a young man to him occupying one of the most powerful positions in Egypt we learn how God can promote a person. God chose him because he proved to be a man of integrity. He was tested in many situations but chose the way that will please God. Through the story of Joseph we see how remaining faithful to the Lord can open doors that no man can shut.
Lessons from Joesph’s life
Below are some of the principles and lessons from Joseph’s life that when applied can also open doors for us and those we love:
- Joseph did not hold a grudge against his brothers even though they mistreated him. He forgave them. He kept his focus on the bigger picture and on the vision that God gave him. He did not allow the enemy to steal his destiny because of an unforgiving heart!
- He concerned himself with the burdens of others. When he saw the baker and the butler were sad because they could not interpret their dreams he was concerned about them and offered to help. He saw that they were dejected. He reached out to them and ministered help to them.
- Joseph was trustworthy; that is why he was put in leadership positions wherever he went — even in prison.
- He feared God. He told Potiphar’s wife, when she wanted to sleep with him, that he would not sin against God. How many will do that today? How many have lost their good reputation only for fleeting moments of satisfying their lust. Many families and marriages have broken because a man or a woman couldn’t and didn’t say no.
- He looked after people’s property well. He implemented a spirit of excellence and because he was trustworthy in the little God promoted him to be ruler over much.
- He lived out what he preached “But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison”(Genesis 40:14). Joseph did the same for his brothers. He remembered them. He didn’t just enjoy the benefits of his new position but remembered the sufferings of his family back home. He realised that it was God’s plan for him to go through all the suffering he went through. It was to save many people!
- Joseph learnt endurance and patience. TWO FULL YEARS passed before Pharaoh had a dream. Joseph probably thought that after he helped the cupbearer he was going to be out of prison but he had to learn our ways are not necessarily God’s ways.
- We all have a wilderness when things do not seem to be happening. Routine settles and our dreams seem to be forgotten as well. Genesis 40:23 says ”The chief cupbearer however, did not remember Joseph. He forgot him.”
- Don’t look down on famine. It might be the very place where God blesses you. It was where Joseph was reunited with his family. He prospered during a famine. He received a promotion and provision when he was facing one of the darkest periods of his life. God will make you and your family fruitful in the land of your sufferings.
- Joseph honoured and respected authority! He served Potiphar (Genesis 39: 4) and he served the warden in prison Joseph (Genesis 39:22). We want to be used of God but don’t respect the authority and the relationships that the Father has placed in our lives. If you do not respect and honour your pastor, your husband; your wife, your parents, government authorities then you must not expect God to honour your prayers for promotion.
When we quote scriptures try to encourage not only ourselves and those we love but the greater body of Christ as well. Let us not forget that God searches the hearts of men and sees the intentions of why we do the things that we do. He is not mocked! He sees how we treat others and will reward us according to our actions. Our actions are not just personal to the Father but they affect the business of the kingdom! The business of the kingdom of God is loving God and loving His people.
Even today God is still looking to see who He will choose to work for Him. Who will He use greatly? Who will He use to serve His people? Who will God entrust with revelation of dreams that will be instrumental in saving nations, churches; families and individual lives. Are there still people like Joseph, David and Esther, Noah, Abraham and Job? People who God Himself looks at their life and says: “There goes my child who will not betray My trust. I have full trust in him!” He tells us how: Love the Lord with all your heart; with all your mind and with all you strength and love your neighbour as you love yourself!