SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
God Can Help Us Live with Integrity that Honors Our Lord
Key Verse: So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.” – Genesis 41:39
Since we know the whole story it is
hard for us to feel sorry for Joseph even when he was serving time in prison
for a crime he had not committed. We know that he will be freed, find favor
with Pharaoh, and become a great ruler in
However it stands to reason that for many years Joseph was not a “happy camper.” He had suffered a cruel fate at the hands of his own brothers. He had been yanked away from his own family and forced to live in another country as a servant. Though he resisted the temptation to sleep with Potiphar’s wife, God failed to reward him for his integrity. Instead Joseph was thrown into prison. This must have created at least a little self-pity.
Any normal person enduring such hardships would have laughed at the idea that God had “a good plan” for his life. He would have asked, “Where is God when I need Him? Why has he allowed me to suffer like this? Why should I bother living a righteous life if God is not going to help me when trouble comes?”
Yet there is no biblical evidence that Joseph ever asked such questions. He never wavered in his faithfulness to God. Despite his misfortunes he kept on doing the right thing. Because of that Joseph is a genuine example of godly integrity.
What lessons may we learn from this segment of Joseph’s life? Here are a few:
1) God is always at work in our lives even when we do not recognize his presence. God does have a plan. And he allows and uses the hardships of our lives to accomplish his purposes. He did so with Joseph. He does so with us.
This is an important truth to remember: God is always at work! He created the world and he is in control of the world. He never sleeps. When we are sleeping, God continues to work his will in the affairs of men. The ways and the work of God are quite beyond our understanding.
Now and then we are privileged to see why a certain thing happened years ago. In such moments we can celebrate the kindness of God to allow us to catch a glimpse of his gracious hand at work. Then we may sleep more peacefully having realized that even when we least suspect it God is at work – and always working for our good.
2) God can use a person of integrity for the benefit of other people. He needs people of character to accomplish his will. So it behooves us to strive for a morally clean, honest way of life. We gain nothing through dishonesty; indeed we lose the respect of others.
The reward for integrity may not be immediate but it is absolutely certain. Dishonesty robs us of our self-respect as well as the trust of others. Ultimately integrity pays off for it gains us the approval of the God who made us.
Think about the people you admire the most. Surely they are the people whose character has earned your respect. They are the people who are worthy of your trust. You may rest assured that you will never win the admiration of others by indecent, immoral, and ungodly behavior.
3) There will always be a need for people in whom the Spirit of God is working. Pharaoh was looking for a man in whom he could see the Spirit of God. He saw that man in Joseph.
When we live to honor God with integrity, others can see God in us. What an honor God gives us – to live so that our lives can reflect the presence of the God who has made his home in our hearts!
We cannot live perfectly but we can live so that even when we have erred in judgment, people can see God at work in us, stirring us to the repentance that leads to new life.
The secret of Joseph’s life is found in the oft repeated phrase, “The Lord was with him.” There is the secret for us also. Joseph did a mighty work for God because “the Lord was with him.” This we find in the first chapter of the Bible. Later the New Testament will tell us that the Messiah’s name is Immanuel which means “God with us.” Here is the key to a life of integrity – God with us! As He was with Joseph!
The good news of the gospel is that, in the fullness of time, Immanuel did come! God is with us! Christ knocks on the door of our hearts, inviting us to let him come in.
When we welcome Christ into our hearts, he gives us the grace to live with integrity that honors God. The words of Adelaide Pollard often come to mind as the prayer I need to pray if others are to see God at work in me:
“Hold o’er my being absolute sway, fill with thy Spirit till all shall see Christ only, always, living in me!” I know God is willing to do that but he waits for me to say it with all my heart, “Have thine own way, Lord, have thine own way”!
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