If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods our ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)
Life is all about choices. It has been wisely said, “You are because of God. But you are where you are because of the choices you have made in life.”
So . . . as you look at your life up to this point, where have your choices brought you?
The Bible is chock-full of examples of the consequences of choices . . . some good and some bad. For every person who has ever lived, except one—our Lord Jesus Christ—life consists of a mixture of both wise and foolish choices. Adam and Eve made both wise and foolish choices. Abraham . . . Moses . . . Peter . . . Paul . . . all these great heroes of the faith made both wise and foolish choices. Today I want to encourage you with a wonderful example of wise choices and show how God blessed them in the life of Joseph. But first, let’s overview the story.
Joseph grew up in a typical Hebrew household. He had several brothers and his parents loved him dearly. Jacob, Joseph’s father, made a poor choice by showing favoritism to Joseph, causing Joseph’s brothers to become jealous and hateful toward him. When Joseph was 17 years old, his brothers’ resentment boiled over; they attacked Joseph and threw him into a well to die. Then they changed their minds and decided to profit from their evil; they pulled Joseph up out of the pit and sold him to traveling merchants on their way down into Egypt.
Joseph prospered in Egypt, however, and rose to the position of administrator in the house of Potiphar, the captain of the palace guard. Scripture tells us that Joseph was a handsome young man; Potiphar’s wife lusted after Joseph, repeatedly propositioning him, but Joseph refused to have anything to do her. Furious, Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of trying to rape her, and he was imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.
In prison, Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s chief baker and the forgetful cup-bearer, who did not tell Pharaoh about Joseph’s gift until two years later, when Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret. Pharaoh summoned Joseph, who, because of God’s gifting, rightly interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams of a coming severe famine. And so Joseph was elevated from the pit, by way of the prison, all the way into the palace and the position of Pharaoh’s prime minister, second in command in all of Egypt.
After the famine hit, Joseph’s brothers were sent by their father Jacob from the land of Canaan down to Egypt to buy food for the family. When they arrived, they had no idea it was their brother Joseph who was in this position of great authority and power under Pharaoh. Eventually Joseph revealed his true identity, and his brothers were terrified, remembering how they had schemed to kill Joseph and then lined their pockets by selling him into slavery. What would Joseph do? How would he avenge himself? But in an act of astonishing forgiveness, Joseph uttered some of the most memorable words in all the Old Testament, words which the Holy Spirit undoubtedly intended to point us toward the amazing grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph told his brothers:
You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones. (Genesis 50:20-21 ESV)
This is truly a remarkable story! Throughout his time in Egypt, Joseph might have cursed his God for seemingly abandoning him, and he certainly could have cursed his brothers for absolutely abandoning him. But he did not none of these things. Instead he chose the route of obedience, worship, and forgiveness. Joseph chose . . .
- Acceptance over anger
- Self-sacrifice over self-pity
- Expanding God’s Kingdom over expanding his own kingdom
- Forgiveness over bitterness
Because Joseph never took his eyes off of his God, he made the right choices in the areas that mattered most in life. Joseph accepted his situation from the hand of the Almighty. Joseph refused self-pity and instead allowed self-sacrifice to mark his life. Joseph could have expanded the cause of his own kingdom when Pharaoh raised him up to the position of prime minister of Egypt, but he remained focused on expanding the kingdom of God. And finally, with every reason to condemn his brothers for the years of hardship and bitterness they had subjected him to, Joseph forgave them and was ultimately used by God to save His people from the famine.
We too, are faced with choices every day. Some of our choices are wise and others are foolish. Some choices will bring glory to God and other choices will not. So let me close today with a simple question: “Whom do you choose to serve today . . . your Savior or yourself?”
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!