“Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the place of the great.” Proverbs 25:6
This lesson fits one of my favorite Bible characters perfectly! Not because he was guilty of deceit or of being a sluggard. To the contrary, he was the model of transparency, humility and diligence. If you haven’t guessed, it’s none other than Joseph.
Sold as a young lad into slavery, Joseph had every excuse to be bitter. He suffered a travesty that few of us could imagine. To be betrayed by a foe is one thing. But to suffer betrayal at the hands of your own family members must make the wounds deeper and affect the psyche in a more acute way.
Since we have the benefit of knowing how the story ended, we see the mysterious work of God unfolding before us. No one but God could turn such a tragedy of life into unprecedented victory and transform the unlikeliest to succeed into the hero of a generation.
We see in Joseph the work ethic he must have learned at his father’s home. His diligence in the small affairs of life bore fruit and led to greater and greater responsibilities. His integrity was of the highest caliber and he always behaved above reproach. Joseph was not someone hiding behind a mask of pretensions.
Through providence Joseph found himself standing before the ruler of Egypt. This powerful monarch, who had access to the greatest minds of his country, was in a dilemma. Joseph had just revealed the meaning of the Pharaoh’s dream, and with sincerity and wisdom he gave this advice:
“Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.” Genesis 41:33-36
It is here that we again see the mysterious working of God being revealed. Pharaoh converses with his servants about who they could find for this life or death responsibility. They would need someone who would look after the survival of the nation. Someone who could get the job done. This would be the position of a lifetime, and Pharaoh must choose wisely.
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 41:39-41
One moment he was a slave – the next, the second most powerful person in the kingdom. Only God could do this. Joseph did not take credit for his reversal of fortune. No hint of arrogance tarnished his legacy. He understood that it was the God he served to whom he owed everything.
We learn so much from the experience of Joseph. His witness was his life. He lived his life with a high standard when not doing so would not have seemed unusual. He believed that his life was in God’s hands and even the wrongs done to him would not mold his outlook on life. He moved past his hurts and forgave those who betrayed him.
And Joseph’s life reminds us that there is nothing that we do that is insignificant. Every day is another opportunity to live our lives for God. Every day is another opportunity to witness to the benefits of walking with God, wherever we find ourselves.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does “being transparent” mean to you?
- Does being transparent mean that I wear my emotions on my sleeve? Why yes or no?
- Proverbs 27:5 says “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed.” What does it mean to rebuke someone?
- Is rebuking someone equivalent to our phrase of “putting someone in their place?” Why yes or no?
- It is often said that we should forgive but never forget. Explain how, if at all, we are to apply this way of thinking to our lives as disciples.
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: The closer we get to God the more transparent we will be. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson on Behind the Mask with some wise words from Job. They are fascinating and it’s worth the time to read this entire chapter.
“Do you think you can explain the mystery of God?
Do you think you can diagram God Almighty?
God is far higher than you can imagine,
far deeper than you can comprehend,
Stretching farther than earth’s horizons,
far wider than the endless ocean.
If he happens along, throws you in jail
then hauls you into court, can you do anything about it?
He sees through vain pretensions,
spots evil a long way off—
no one pulls the wool over his eyes!
Hollow men, hollow women, will wise up
about the same time mules learn to talk.” Job 11:7-12
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!
For online lessons please visit http://www.ssnet.org/lessons/15a/less10.html