Most people have a distinct idea of what the Bible represents for humanity. Some believe that it is a realistic account of several miracles that occurred over 2,000 years ago. Some believe that it is collection of myths and parables that relate to the human condition. And yet, some others believe that it is a combination of the two. But, regardless of how factual the Bible actually is, it provides an infinite amount of morals for daily living. The story of Joseph from the book of Genesis yields many of those lessons.
Lesson #1: You Do Not Chose Your Family
Genesis 37:4 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all of his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
Joseph was well loved in his home. His parents treated all their children well, but Joseph had his father’s favor. And, because of this favorable treatment, his brothers were envious of him. Joseph did nothing wrong. He was born into conflict just like a lot of people are born into difficult situations today. Everyone has their own unique background and the corresponding problems that go along with their diverse upbringings. And, life may be challenging because of the them. You do not choose your family and you do not choose your station in life. It is up to you to make the most of your situation.
Lesson #2: Believe In Your Dreams But, Be Careful Who You Share Them With
Genesis 37:5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
Genesis 37:8 And his brethren said unto him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
Joseph was a dreamer, who had the unique ability of interpreting them. He shared his dreams with his brothers in confidence not arrogance, but he was despised because of it. Joseph found that sharing his hopes and dreams put him directly in opposition with his brothers. Dreams are powerful things, and everyone does not share the same zeal as you do about your dreams. When you share your dreams with the people around you, you should be sure that will be receptive to what they tell you.
Lesson #3: Sometimes, Your Biggest Haters Are Those Closest to You
Genesis 37:18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.
Joseph was the eleventh child of Israel, the first born of Jacob’s second wife, and his favorite. Because they were jealous of the affection that he was shown, and wanted to kill him. Instead, they sold him into slavery. Joseph’s flesh and blood got rid of him because of their envy for his position in the family. Joseph’s brothers represent an obstacle that is present in most people’s lives, their family. Often, it is the people who are closest to you who do not believe in you. Sometimes they are the people who are most difficult to convince that your dreams have merit. And, their negativity can be a detriment to your success.
Lesson #4: Grace Can Come Even When You Are in the Lowest Places
Genesis 39:2-3 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.
Slavery is not an option that anyone would choose to be put in, and Joseph was forced into it by those who should have been protecting him, but even in the most dire situation he found peace. A large part of the grace and confidence that he felt was because of his belief in his gift and being in touch with his own spirituality. Some people call it centering themselves or being grounded and some people reach it through prayer to God, but being able to find positivity in the midst of chaos is necessary. Your situation does not define you. You decide how well or how poorly you will do in any circumstance.
Lesson #5: Your Dream May Not Arrive When You Want It To Show Up
Genesis 39:11-12 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
Genesis 39:14 That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice.
Genesis 39:20 And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in prison.
Joseph probably thought that he had arrived in the big leagues when he made it out of the slavery and into the servitude of a wealthy man. He was no longer tangibly imprisoned, he lived in the house with his employer, and his life was on the upswing. Then, he ran into a woman who wanted more from him than he could give. Joseph fled the situation, and his master’s wife lied and said that he accosted her. Her deception put Joseph right back in the unjust situation that he had just escaped. Sometimes doing the right thing is not enough to keep you out of trouble. His dream seemed to be undone. And some of your dreams may appear to be hopeless because you think that you are always forced back to the drawing board on projects. You should know that your struggle is not in vain even though it may seem to be an effort in futility. And you should also know that eventually you will face a dilemma that you did nothing to incite. Life is a series of tests, some of them completely unfounded and unwarranted.
Lesson #6: Your Struggle Puts You In the Right Place for Your Miracle
Genesis 39:21 But the Lord was with Joseph and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
Genesis 41:15 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it; and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.
Genesis 41:37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.
Had Joseph not been lied upon by his master’s wife, then he never would have been in position to become the right hand of the emperor. The time that he spent in jail put him directly in contact with the people that granted him his redemption. Redemption comes in many different forms. Some people do find it in jail cells. Every year a number of former criminal become attorneys, and several current inmates are now in GED classes and other educational programs. Though countless offenders continue bad drug habits in prison, some inmates do kick their drug habit and become mentors for other prisoners. But, a literal prison is not the way to a new and better life. So many people in the United States faced economic upheaval when the the recession and the depression hit in the past few years. But, those financial hurdles allowed a plethora of new businesses to spring up. People have been able to do what they love to do because their options for stable income had dissipated. Losing their job forced them to try new avenues for income. Many people dealt with financial ruin, however they began to get close with their families and friends because they had no choice. And, they found that emotional balance is more important than financial stability. Tragedy is never comfortable, but it can put you in a mindset that is more amiable to change. And, that change could be more fulfilling than you could ever imagine.
Lesson #7: Do The Right Thing Once You Have Made It
Genesis 42:3 And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.
Genesis 42:6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
Genesis 45:1 Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known to his brethren.
Joseph should have been livid when his brothers showed up at the palace and asked him to feed them. In fact, in Chapters 43 and 44, he questions them and holds them captive for a night. However, Joseph knows who he is and what type of man that he is. He had the authority to have them imprisoned, put into slavery, or killed, but he did not attack them. He instead had them bring him his little brother and father and embraced them. Joseph treated them the way that they should have treated him despite how much they hated him initially. He did not let his title corrupt him. Sometimes it is hard not to be a jerk once you have surpassed the people who have oppressed you. However, moral fiber is defined by behaving properly when it is much easier to act like a fool.