Todays’ passage has all the drama of a soap opera – Joseph treated badly by his brothers and sold into slavery, but ends up as COO of Potiphar’s household and then chucked in prison!
Joseph starts out using his gifts and talents to be a blessing in his secular workplace. He’s not serving believers and the household of faith, but the world. He is doing whatever he does to the glory of God (Col 3:23-24). God uses us wherever we are placed and expects us to serve where we are working. Jesus camenot be served but to serve and so must we (Matt 20:28)
Mrs Pots gets the hots – Joseph is handsome and young and vulnerable to Mrs Potiphar – the desparate housewife of the Ancient Near East. She tries to lure him into bed on numerous occasions. Finally he has to run away as she grabs him by the robe. Joseph is striking in his ethics and integrity – not taking advantage of his power, like so many in this “MeToo” generation. “Run away” is the best thing to do many times! It was Paul’s advice to young Timothy “Flee the evil desires of youth” 2 Tim 2:22. Paul urged the Corinthians to also flee sexual immorality 1 Cor 6. The Bible elevates sex from a mere pleasurable self-gratifying activity to a breathtakingly beautiful act of giving oneself to another so that the two become one.
Timothy Keller reminds us that sex outside of marriage is saying “I want physical oneness, but not whole-life oneness. I want you but I don’t want to have to entrust myself to you completely and I don’t want you completely.” C.S. Lewis said that ‘to have sex outside of marriage, to want pleasure without a promise or commitment, is like trying to eat and taste food and then vomit it up.’ Wanting the taste of the food and not the ramifications of eating it, not wanting it to become a part of you. Biblical sexual ethics are radically counter-cultural. As author Sam Perry writes, “it is important to communicate (this) in such a way that we don’t just heap guilt on them, but rather help them to see God’s ‘whole-life’ plan for sex, so that our people would be people of integrity, integrating our bodies with our whole lives, knowing that the catechism is right when it says that we don’t belong to ourselves, but belong body and soul, in life and in death to Him who died for us.” If you are being defeated in the area of sexual temptation – whether it be pornography, masturbation, or sex outside of marriage of man and wife. Stop! Run Away! For many confessing to a trusted friend not only takes away the shame, but the sting of habitually temptation and sinful habit.
Resisting temptation is not a matter of chanting “I won’t give in, I won’t give in, I won’t give in” – that doesn’t usually work! Joseph’s answer to Mrs Pot’s in v9 was “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Chanting or thinking “I won’t give in” doesn’t empower resistance, actually it keeps us thinking about the temptation. We must not just love sin less, but love the Lord more. Joseph didn’t want to sin against His God. He savoured his relationship with the Lord more than the fleeting pleasures of sin.
Even though he did the right thing, he ends up in prison – but even there he is blessed and prospers. Joseph is a type of Christ who was numbered with the transgressors (Isa 53)
What do you need to run away from this morning?