The Invitation of Temptation

temptation.jpg

As I said

earlier

in the

Joseph

series, I intend to share with you some lessons that I saw this time when I read about Joseph more-so than any other time before. So let me cut right to the chase and give you the big idea up front:

Temptation is Satan's invitation for you to abort God's purpose and plan for your life.

Joseph amazes me. He has the fortitude of an iron giant. He's a slave in a foreign country and he still manages to succeed at everything he does (Gen. 39:2). Then he goes to prison and he's upbeat and positive while everyone else is all gloom and doom (Gen. 40:6-7). He's appointed to second in command in the empire of a world power when he's completely unknown to the people and the established leaders (Gen. 41:40). He also spends the following fourteen plus years of his life managing this mammoth master-plan for Pharaoh and the Egyptian people (Gen. 41:48-49). But to withstand the test of Potiphar's wife is the most impressive.

The Bible doesn't actually say that Potiphar's wife was beautiful, but I think we can assume that she was for a few reasons. First, the bible talks about how good looking Joseph was (Gen. 39:6b). It was in the context of that piece of information that Mrs. Potiphar began making overtures to him (39:7). It's obviously because she considers herself a "match" for him. Second, he doesn't just ignore her or blow her off. In fact, the bible never said he didn't want her. I'll come back to this. Third, Potiphar is a very rich, powerful, and well-respected man. In those days the wives of the men of the stature did not work. Their only job was to make their husband look good. Thus, most of them were "trophy wives" or "showpieces." Let's face it, Mrs. Paula Patton, I mean Mrs. Potiphar was fine...as in supa-fine! 

She isn't very shy or discreet either (another clue that she was bombshell). She's used to always getting her way. She's selfish, pampered and spoiled like so many pretty girls are. So she just comes right out with it. 

"'Come and sleep with me,' she demanded."

I heard a preacher say recently that Joseph had every reason to give in. He had been separated from his family and everything he knew. He was betrayed and sold by his brothers. He was being kept as a slave even though his father is a rich nobleman. And he has to learn to navigate the culture and language of this strange place. His mother is dead, and he misses his father. He has a very long list of good reasons not to stand firm. But he stays strong anyway. Absolutely amazing.

This same pastor also argued that Mrs. Portman...ehem, excuse me...Mrs. Potiphar was also completely naked when she made her "request" of Joseph. She had every bit of authority to order everyone out of the house for some privacy, but Joseph is sharp. He know's that this can and will never be a secret. The other servants will figure it out. They've been noticing the extra longs stares that the misses has been sending his way. They've actually been taking bets as to when it was gonna go down. And this is one reason why Joseph can't bend. But look at the other actual reasons he gives. They're classic.

First he says, "Look...my master trusts me..." Next he says, "He has held nothing back from me..." And then finally he said, "How can I do such a wicked thing" It would be a great sin against God" (see Gen. 39:8-9). Did you notice what he didn't say? Let's recap. (1)Your husband really trusts me. (2) I've been doing really good and staying out of trouble. (3) No one else might find out, but God sees us. Let me first say that these are some really good reasons. However, not once did he say that he wasn't attracted to her. Neither did he say that he didn't want to go to bed with her. And here is a very important lesson about temptation.

It is only a temptation if it's something that you want. 

(You can tweet that.)

It's a temptation because it's something that you actually desire, but it's either the wrong thing, the wrong time, the wrong way, or the wrong reason. And satan will use that thing...whatever it is...to derail you from the plan and purpose God has for your life. Let me give you that initial big idea again. 

         Temptation is Satan's invitation for you to abort God's purpose and plan for your life. 

So Joseph ran because it was getting harder and harder to resist the beauty and the advances of Mrs. Pinkett-Smith. I mean Mrs. Perry. Wait, I mean Mrs. Potiphar...P.O.T.I.P.H.A.R...POTIPHAR! It was hard for Joseph to fight the urge to give in to Mrs. Potiphar, so he ran. He was not willing to allow a few moments of pleasure to abort God's plan for his life.

My good friend Lincoln Smith used to always say, "If you can't stand like Jesus, you better run like Joseph." And without saying too much let's just say, I'm glad I've always been very athletic. I ran cross country in high school. And despite the challenges of college, I ran fairly regularly to stay in shape. And in 2011, I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon (all 26.1 miles of it without stopping) in 3 hours 55 minutes and 55 seconds. I was just thinking this morning that I need to lace up my running shoes. Running is good for your health (and your future). It's hard to keep running. Sometimes I get lazy, but I don't want to look at myself one day and think...what happened? Maybe I ought to grab my shoes right now. I gotta make sure I stay in shape.