Understanding the bigger picture
The first lesson we can learn from the life of Josep is the fear of God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and to fear good is to hate evil. Without a healthy fear of God, it is impossible to defeat evil. Joseph feared God and this empowered him to resist the temptation to commit adultery.
The second lesson is forgiveness. Joseph's brothers committed a despicable act against him, yet he forgave them. Joseph forgave not because he was not hurting, it was because he understood that God was up to something bigger and better.
This takes us to the third lesson: Understanding the bigger picture:
Joseph understood who was the true master and who had the final say and the ultimate plan. This is why even though he was a slave, he refused to obey his mistress to commit adultery.
He was following a bigger plan: the plan God had revealed to Abraham many years before Joseph was born. God had promised that Abraham’s descendants were going down to Egypt and be enslaved, but they will be delivered and brought back to possess the promised land. In short, God wanted them to get to Egypt to become a critical mass so that they can come back and occupy the land.
Here is the promise that God gave Abraham:
Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” Gen 15:13-16 (NIV)
Abraham passed this promise to Isaac, who passed it to Jacob, who passed it to Joseph and his brothers. Apparently, only Joseph understood what was going on. God had given Joseph some dreams, but these dreams were not to promote him, but part of God’s redemption plan. This is why Joseph attributed his being sold to Egypt as a divine act and not his brother betraying him.
No wonder Joseph had the courage to tell his brothers the following:
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, donot be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Genesis 45:4-8 (NIV)
Joseph forgave his brothers not because they were not guilty, he did so based on his trust in the Lord for an ultimate outcome that will glorify God. When you read the following verse it sheds some light on the importance of trusting the Lord:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)
Our understanding will 9 out of 10 times push us to sake for vengeance and to demand payback to those who have hurt us.
However, we must learn from that life of Joseph and take the higher road of forgiveness, because we know God has better things in mind. In fact, God will use what the enemy meant for bad to work out better things for us.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Joseph was, hated, betrayed, sold, enslaved, and unjustly imprisoned, yet all these bad things propelled him to become the prime minister of Egypt.
You too can trust God with, your pain, maltreatment, betrayal, imprisonment, or whatever evil that has happened. To trust God is to forgive and focus on God's bigger plan, which is to rescue, redeem and restore mankind.
The blessed hope is that nothing is wasted in God's economy. Things may not make sense, however, when you trust and obey you will be able to live in accordance with the following admonition:
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.