Last week at Sackville United Baptist Church we started talking about the life of Joseph. This week we moved the story a little further. Joseph was sold to slave traders by his brothers. Those traders made their way to Egypt, where Joseph was purchased by Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, Potiphar.
Two things happened while Joseph served Potiphar. First Potiphar’s estate flourished. Potiphar took notice of this gave Joseph ever increasing responsibility until he was the household manager. The second thing that happened was Mrs. Potiphar took notice of Joseph’s good looks and success. She tried to get Joseph to sleep with her.
However he refused.
Joseph told her it would be a betrayal of Potiphar and God. Mrs. Potiphar wouldn’t take no for an answer. One day when Joseph entered the house to perform his duties Mrs. Potiphar grabbed his cloak and tried once again to have her way with him. In response Joseph pulled away and ran leaving his cloak behind. Mrs. Potiphar was now furious so accused Joseph of rape, using his cloak as evidence.
This story is all about temptation and how best to respond to it. Joseph’s story gives us two great principles to follow;
1. Avoided The Source Of The Temptation
Joseph refused to be around Mrs. Potiphar. This is a good pattern for us to follow. A few weeks ago I participated in a 30 hour famine. Around hour 12 I was really hungry, and I was at home surrounded by food. After I got Ariella fed and put down for a nap I left the kitchen/dining room area. While I was there all I could do was think about eating. After I left my stomach settled down and my desire to eat lowered.
If you are tempted by alcoholism, stay out of the bars/liquor stores. If you you are in danger of being unfaithful to your partner stay away from the other man/woman. Whatever the temptation is the best way to keep you from acting on it is to avoid putting yourself in a position where it is possible to act on.
2. When You Can’t Avoid Temptation Run From It
When Mrs Potiphar first approached Joseph he gave an explanation why he would not sleep with her. When she became more assertive and grabbed him Joseph pulled away from her and ran.
The teens getting ready for the famine had only one of the question, ‘what could they ‘eat’ that wasn’t cheating?’ They wanted to know if they could eat popsicles (yes), freezies (yes), revellos (no), and if they could drink milk (no) and energy drinks (no).
I think we can do the same thing. Maybe we fear looking prudish, or rude, or repressed, or maybe we just want to get as close to the thing tempting us as possible. This is a recipe for disaster. The more often you put yourself in a position to be tempted, the more likely you will succumb. Emulate Joseph, if you can’t avoid whatever is tempting you ‘turn and run’.
Regardless of your faith disposition there will come a time where you are tempted to do something that is counter your personal morals. Some of the best advice I can give you is the example we find here in Joseph. Avoid the source of temptation, and when you can’t avoid it get away from it as quickly as you can.
**This post is a much altered version of the sermon I gave at Sackville United Baptist Church on May 26th 2013. You can listen to the full sermon here.**
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