Secret to Success
Genesis 39: 1-23
Good morning all of you!
It is so good to be with you all once again. Today, I want to talk to you about the ‘secret of success. Yes, you heard it right, secret to success. There are millions of tips, steps and plans given to figure out those secrets in order to be successful. People spent millions of dollars in search of success in life. Today, I want to give you the secrets of success from the best success story you are ever going to find. This story comes from the Bible where success is defined in terms of God’s favor. Let us see how we could find this favor of God or success in our lives.
Joseph was Rachel's firstborn and Jacob's eleventh son. Of all the sons, Joseph was loved by his father the most. Jacob’s favoritism toward Joseph caused his half brothers to hate him. Joseph’s two dreams added more hatred in the heart of his brothers. In the first dream, Joseph and his brothers gathered bundles of grain. Then, all of the grain bundles that had been prepared by the brothers gathered around Joseph's bundle and bowed down to it. In the second dream, the sun (father), the moon (mother) and eleven stars (brothers) bowed down to Joseph himself. As the result of jealousy and hatred, his brothers sold him to the Medianites.
The story of ‘God’s favor in Joseph’s faithfulness’ is found in Genesis chapter 39. It is the continuation of Genesis chapter 37, where he was sold by his brothers. Potipher bought him from the Medianites who had brought him to Egypt. Now, he is in a new place among new people where none of his friends and families was around. But the Lord was always with him and favoring him in everything he was doing there. As the result of God’s favor and his faithfulness toward God, chapter 40-41 explains how the Lord was making him successful in whatever he did. The questions may arise here, how can I have that kind of favor of God in my life? How can I be successful in my life? I’m sure these are some of the questions that pop up in your mind at times and often. It is indeed good to think about these things and have questions like these. But, the point is, are we doing anything to make it happen in our life? Let us see what Joseph did in his life to find the favor of God in his life and to be successful in whatever he did.
Now, as Joseph is in Potipher’s household, he had faith in his God even in the midst of uncertainties ahead. He has never forgotten that God is with him always. He was always faithful to the presence of God in his life and work at Potipher’s house. We can neither see any kind of complain for what had happened to him nor any kind of compromise to get out of that situation. We often do that when we go through difficult times in life, don’t we? We even compromise our faith at times, in order to just get through the situations in life. But Joseph was just faithful to God and His presence for wherever he is and whatever will happen to him. We can see his total dependence upon God and his faithfulness to His favor.
Why does God test us before trusting us with the bigger responsibilities?
God did not test Joseph to prove him untrustworthy or unfaithful. Indeed, he was faithful to God and his presence which we can see from God’s favor being upon him. The point here is, God wants to prepare Joseph for bigger responsibilities. He wants to grant success to Joseph by putting him in various situations in order to make him mature in his faithfulness to God. God’s test to Joseph is not for him to limit his responsibilities but to expand his sphere of influence with bigger responsibilities. God’s preparation includes the test that Joseph went through which we see in verses 7-18.
Joseph was a very handsome, young man. He must have had big muscles; charming face and physically fit body that everybody around him can’t help but to notice him. I can imagine Joseph would walk around and the people would look at him saying…..wwoohhh. I am sure many girls during that time have had a crush on him. Among those people who were noticing him, Potipher’s wife was the main person. She was so in love with Joseph in her heart that she did not just have crush on him but also wanted to have sex with him. She can’t help herself and keep her feelings inside so finally, one day she asked him to have sex with her. But you know what Joseph did? He refused it. He did not just refuse, but also explained her why he cannot have sex with her in verses 8-9. We can see his faithfulness to his master who has trusted him with all the responsibilities in the household. More than that, he was faithful to God who was preparing him for greater responsibilities. He said, “How can I do such an evil and sin against God”? Let me ask you a question here, what would you do if you were in the situation of Joseph there? Or put it in other way, what will be your response in situations like this in your life today.
Are we faithful to God in situations like this as He is testing us for bigger responsibilities?
Going back to the passage, we see that potipher’s wife did not stop appealing Joseph to have sex with her. She continued to ask him to have sex with her day after day. But Joseph did not respond or ‘listen’ to her invitation at all. It shows that he was concerned something bigger than her invitation to have sex, he was more concerned to God’s invitation to be faithful to Him. As he didn’t listen to her frequent request, Potipher’s wife got tired of just asking. So, one day, as there was nobody in the house, she literally grabbed him on his outer cloth and asked him to have sex with her. Imagine what did Joseph do, he ran out leaving his cloth in her hand. It was an extreme form of sexual temptation in a real life situation which was not just in the form of words but act too. But Joseph was so determined to his faithfulness to God’s preparation in his life. When Potipher’s wife saw him running out of the house, she called the other servants of the household and told them that he tried to have sex with her. She kept his cloth until Potipher came home and she reported him about the incident. She said, Jospeh tried to have sex with her but she raised her voice and screamed, so he left his outer cloth and ran outside.
Here a question arises again, how can we be sure that God protects us in difficult situations like this?
Let us look at verses 19-20 in our text to see what happens next.
When Potipher heard what had happened to his wife, he became furious. Indeed it was a natural of a husband when he heard about what had happened to his wife from a trusted servant. So he threw Joseph into the prison. You may ask, how did God protect Joseph when he was thrown into the prison? Yes, he did protect Joseph by putting him into the prison. If we look at verse 20 in our text, we see that the prison where Joseph was thrown was the prison where the king’s prisoners were confined. That is in fact a protection from God. Potipher could have put Joseph in any prison, why in that special prison? It is because of the protection of God in Joseph’s life. In other words, God protected Joseph by putting him in a prison where king’s prisoners would be confined where he would be safe. God protected Joseph even in difficult times like this when his master had the right to do anything against him. Since he was working as a servant, he could have been killed as well. There was nobody or no law to speak in favor on his side. But because of God’s protection in his life, he was put in a safe prison. Again, God was not just protecting Joseph but at the same time, preparing him for bigger responsibilities.
If God grants us success and trusts us with bigger responsibilities, why does He have to put us in situations like that? Or if God wants to give us success in whatever we do, why is He putting conditions for it?
Let us focus in the last 3 verses, 21-23 in order to know why God puts condition for us in order to grant us success.
As we continue our story, God was always with Joseph in all situations in his life. He was there when Joseph was in good situations and He was there when Joseph was in difficult situations as well. In fact, we read this statement, “God was with Joseph” in our passage in 8 different situations. It shows how God is continually showing His kindness to Joseph since he was sold by his brothers being in the prison at this point. Though he is in the different country, away from home, betrayed by his own brothers, became a slave and now in prison after going through a difficult time of being accused of trying to have sex with Potipher’s wife. In all these situations, God was with him and He granted a favor for Joseph in the sight of the prison warden so that he could be the overseer over the prisoners. Once again, Joseph became the overseer. But this time, it was not over the household but over the prison. I like the way how the story ends in verse 23, “the Lord was with him and whatever he was doing the Lord was making successful”.
There were high times and low times in Joseph’s life where he trusted God and remained faithful to God. God was looking for his heart in fact. He wanted to see Joseph’s trust in His presence and providence. It is easy for us just to believe in our mind that God is with us. But what happens when we are in real life situations where our faith is challenged. This situation is one of the times in Joseph’s life where his faith could have shaken since he is in the prison now after being the overseer of Potipher’s household. It was a huge downfall in his life if we look at it through our human eyes. But when we look at it through God’s eyes, it was the time for Joseph to put his trust in God’s presence and providence in his life. I can see the principle that ‘our faithfulness is rewarded by God’s favor’ which we see in Joseph’s life. He was a faithful slave, he became the overseer of Potipher’s household. He was a faithful prisoner; he became the overseer of the prisoners. He was a faithful overseer of the prisoners; he became the second in command to Pharaoh. Did you see the principle of God’s favor and His blessing here? God grants us success in whatever we do if we trust in His presence and providence in all condition.
We will never experience God’s favor in our lives unless we become faithful to Him in all circumstances of our lives.
God’s favor is found in one’s faithfulness to Him.
Let us take some time to reflect on our lives. Have you faced any kind of temptation lately? Do you feel the presence of God in your daily life? Do you trust God in all times and especially even in difficult times? Are you committed to obey God’s commandments and be faithful to Him? Are you ready to receive God’s favor by being faithful to Him?
Let us pray.