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Disappointment can make you stronger or defeat you; make you bitter or content; cause you to doubt God, or draw closer to him. Perhaps few people knew that better than Joseph. Sold into slavery by disgruntled brothers he found himself a servant to an Egyptian leader. He was pursued by the wife of his master and when he resisted, accused of rape and thrown in prison where he sat for years even though he was instrumental in saving the life of a fellow prisoner.

While some would have given into the frustration of this unfair behavior, Joseph not only remained faithful to his God, but as a result, eventually became second in command of Egypt and was personally responsible for saving the lives of perhaps millions when famine struck the area.

What was his secret? Joseph followed three steps to keep himself faithful. Three decisions that formed his character and gave him strength in difficult times.

Keep Boundaries Intact: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. (Psalm 16:6)

The Psalmist describes firm boundaries as being pleasant places of security. Joseph made sure his boundaries would not succumb to the temptation to compromise his character. When Mrs. Potiphar seduced him it would have been easy to give in. He was in an area where no one knew him. He’d been mistreated and abused. He had little going in his favor and let’s face it, men have needs. Mrs. Potiphar didn’t just invite him to bed once, but several times and when he continued to resist, her accusations of rape put him behind bars. Even there, Joseph rose to leadership because of his character.

Count the Cost: “But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” (Genesis 39:89)

No one would have blamed Joseph for indulging in a little sexual gratification. People would have completely understood if, in his disappointment with God, he had forsaken his faith for easier times. But that’s not what he did. His faith was more important than temporary pleasure. A few minutes of pleasure would have destroyed everything he’d worked for. After David’s secret sin was exposed he expressed relief. Even if your failure remains hidden from the public, your inner turmoil can be destructive.

Have an Escape Plan “She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house. (Genesis 39:12)

Lastly, Joseph had a plan of escape. He decided ahead of time that he would do whatever necessary to keep his life pure. Joseph lost more than a coat that day. He lost his reputation. He lost an esteemed position for a slave. He lost his freedom (temporarily). But what he kept was his conscience and character.

Firmly established boundaries, a conscious effort to see the negative possibilities of your behavior and a plan for escape when the enemy attacks. These three decisions won’t be easy, but anything worth fighting for is difficult. Your temptations are nothing uncommon, but the power of the Holy Spirit within you gives you more power than you need to be victorious.

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February 2023
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