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Joseph the Proven Steward

The Heart of Stewardship: Faithfulness *

Pharaoh had a problem.

He’d had a very disturbing dream, and none of his counselors could figure it out.

Then, one of his servants (the chief cupbearer) remembered that a fellow named Joseph, now languishing in prison, had this unusual gift of interpreting dreams. Joseph, a faithful steward now nearly forgotten, had been given a gift by God that would put him back into a place of influence.

Joseph was cleaned up and brought before Pharaoh. And when Pharaoh described the dream, Joseph was given insight into its meaning – an upcoming drought cycle that would seriously impact the nation of Egypt.

Pharaoh was going to need a creative, wise, pro-active, reliable, proven administrator to help prepare the country. Someone to whom he could delegate a huge swath of responsibility.

Hmmmm….where could he find such a person??

Joseph was elevated to a position that could probably best be described as vice-pharaoh: Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 

signet ring egyptPrisoner one day. Big kahuna the next. From wearer of rags to wearer of the king’s signet ring. Why?

Joseph had passed the test. He had a track record of proven faithfulness. He had been competent and loyal all along. He was gifted by God to carry responsibility and to have unusual insight.

When God wants to make a squash, He takes a few months. When He wants an oak, He takes years. Ask Abraham. Ask Moses. Ask Joseph. Ask any of a number of saints through the ages, down to the present day.

It takes time to form and prove a faithful steward. No shortcuts. And if God is willing to invest that time, so should we be.

Today, let us be faithful. And tomorrow. And next week. When it is time to move up higher, God will make that plain.

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* This series is part of a 12-week study on the topic: Being Stewards of God <— (outline). We’re now in week 4, considering how faithfulness is central to stewardship. If you’d like to receive these posts in your inbox, just put your email address in the Email Subscription box on the blog’s right sidebar.

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The Heart of Stewardship: Faithfulness *

When we left Joseph in yesterday’s post, he had been thrown into prison on trumped-up charges. A highly effective and faithful servant, left forgotten in obscurity because he was loyal and morally pure.

Who could blame him for throwing it all to the winds and drowning in self-pity?

But Joseph was not a situational steward. He was, simply put, a faithful soul anywhere and everywhere he went.

Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed. -Genesis 39:20-23

Just as the Lord had been with Joseph in every other sphere, blessing his efforts, so the Lord was with Joseph in prison. And soon, the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge, because – hey, why not? He was a faithful leader and administrator! When you have a great assistant, willing to work, then you delegate.

heartbeat

As we’ll see, Joseph’s faithfulness and competence eventually earned him an even higher place of authority. But here’s the point – our faithfulness is proven in obscurity. When God and very few others notice. A consistent character of reliability shows itself in a dungeon as well as on a stage.

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* This series is part of a 12-week study on the topic: Being Stewards of God <— (outline). We’re now in week 4, considering how faithfulness is central to stewardship. If you’d like to receive these posts in your inbox, just put your email address in the Email Subscription box on the blog’s right sidebar.

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The Heart of Stewardship: Faithfulness *

Yesterday, we considered the truth that faithful stewardship is rooted in the blessing and presence of God. This was the key to Joseph’s success as an outstanding administrator in Egypt.

Joseph, though a slave, was an amazingly effective servant in Potiphar’s household:

His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. – Genesis 39:3-6

What an astonishing track record – to be so effective, that one’s boss can completely delegate his affairs without the least worry.

Joseph_and_Potiphars_WifePrincipled devotion to God can sometimes come with a high price tag, however. Potiphar’s wife began to take a shine to the handsome young servant, and soon attempted to seduce him:

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. – Genesis 39:7-10

And here we see that faithful stewardship is not merely competence. It is also loyalty. Loyalty to God, and loyalty to his master. Joseph continued to refuse her until, out of spite, she falsely accused him of trying to rape her, and he ended up in prison.

A good steward does what he or she is charged to do. But also, a good steward knows what he or she must not do. Many who have exercised their gifts in the service of God have fallen into moral transgression, because they forgot about the fences.

As we go about our responsibilities, our loyalty will be tested. May loyalty to God above all be displayed in all that we do.

(image source)

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* This series is part of a 12-week study on the topic: Being Stewards of God <— (outline). We’re now in week 4, considering how faithfulness is central to stewardship. If you’d like to receive these posts in your inbox, just put your email address in the Email Subscription box on the blog’s right sidebar.

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The Heart of Stewardship: Faithfulness *

In this past weekend’s Sunday School lesson, we looked at how faithfulness is at the heart of God-pleasing stewardship. Let’s dig a little deeper in this week’s devotional thoughts.

To be faithful is be firmly devoted and loyal. The faithful steward is steady, reliable, and trustworthy. End result: you can hand something off to a faithful steward and not worry about it.

If you’re a business owner – don’t you wish every employee was like this?

Let’s consider Joseph, a prime biblical example of stewardship. What can we learn by looking at his life?

pitJoseph, the youngest of the sons of Israel, was sold off into Egyptian slavery by his jealous and vindictive brothers. Not an auspicious start to his career. First entry into his LinkedIn profile: Dumped in a pit by my family, and made a slave in a foreign land.

But Joseph did not crumble into a pity party. His qualities as a faithful and competent young man soon came to the surface.

We see in Genesis 39:1-6 that Joseph was sold to an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh named Potiphar, and verse 2 provides us with the key to Joseph’s eventual success:

The Lord was with Joseph, (and therefore) he became a successful man.

Lest we miss the point, verse 3 is even more clear: His master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord caused all that He did to succeed in his hands.

Now, we will discover as the story unfolds that Joseph was a brilliant and gifted man. And we know, from Psalm 139 and about a bajillion other places in the Bible, that all such giftedness is from God.

But more: God’s hand was actively with Joseph. He was blessed with the presence and the favor of the Almighty. Joseph had the Midas touch – and it was all from God.

Before we go into the particulars about Joseph’s faithfulness as a steward, let us pause to consider this: any man or woman, boy or girl, under the favorable hand of God can and should become faithful. Every believing follower of Christ should increasingly stand out as loyal, reliable, and trustworthy. Faithful stewardship isn’t just for the super-saints or the patriarchs of old.

It is for you and me. Right now. Right where we are. Because God is God.

He who matured Joseph into a faithful and successful steward is the same God who is with us. As we consider faithfulness this week, let us remember that it is God’s will for every single one of us. No matter what our gifts or our circumstances.

Is God’s hand of blessing on you? If you are in Christ, the marvelous answer is, Yes!

We, then, can and must become faithful stewards. Even if we start out in a pit.

photo credit: phototraffic via photopin cc
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* This series is part of a 12-week study on the topic: Being Stewards of God <— (outline). We’re now in week 4, considering how faithfulness is central to stewardship. If you’d like to receive these posts in your inbox, just put your email address in the Email Subscription box on the blog’s right sidebar.

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A Toast to Joseph

Most of the attention of Christmas centers around the newborn baby Jesus, and rightly so. There are hymns about his birth, songs about Mary, themes of shepherds and angels, stories of wise men and kings.

It’s not every day that you get a Savior born in a stable. On that stage long ago, and in countless Christmas plays since, we see the scenery set with barn animals and bright stars while a virgin and her child are center-stage, brightly lit for all to see and adore.

And then there’s Joseph.

The husband who was not the father, the father who would care for another’s Son.

The next few decades are mostly wrapped in obscurity, as the biblical record jumps almost, but not quite, without touching down again between the birth and the public ministry of Jesus the Messiah. Yet I cannot help but think about that young man Joseph, who made the noble choice to stand by his young bride who would carry a Savior in her womb.

As was the norm in those days, he had to grow up fast. Joseph, a poor man with little to his name, had large responsibilities thrust upon him suddenly, along with the social humiliation of a pregnant wife-to-be whom he not yet bedded. But the word of God and the pledge of his bride were enough for him, and in that remarkable setting of the birth their first-born, he had to become a man, a man who would shepherd the Man destined to become the great Shepherd.

We know almost nothing of those coming-of-age years under Joseph’s care. The spotlight is not on him in the biblical record. But parenthood is best seen by the end result. His young man turned the entire civilized world upside-down. Yes, He was the Son of a divine Father. But He was also Joseph’s son during those formative years.

Perhaps it’s just was well that Joseph’s fumbles and perplexities and struggles to provide a living and an example are shrouded in forgetfulness. A boy becoming a man is difficult at best; a man becoming a man is no less problematic. But, like most forward-thinking Dads, I’m betting Joseph was happy to be behind the scenes while his son’s star was rising. After all, that’s why you do the Dad thing.

Way to go, Joseph. My Christmas hat’s off to you.

Image source

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