Joseph: Faith Producing Integrity

In verse twenty-two of Hebrews eleven the Bible says, “By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.” The historical account that this verse gives reference to is found in Genesis 50:22-26. In these verses we find Joseph on his death bed. While on his death bed he displays the faith that he had in the promise of God. He gives a prophecy concerning the children of Israel that they would be brought up out of Egypt and into the promise land. Joseph instructs his family to carry his bones and bury him in the promise land when that time comes. This took place after Israel’s conquest of the land and the historical account of Joseph’s burial in the promise land is found in Joshua 24:32. There is a great many lessons that can be learned from the life of Joseph. However, if there is one word that would describe Joseph, I believe it would be: integrity. Joseph was a man of great integrity and it is because his integrity that his name is listed in the hall of faith in Hebrews chapter eleven.
Integrity is a word that describes someone who holds true to what they believe. A person with integrity does not waver and does not compromise on his beliefs. As believers in the God of the Bible, we must practice Biblical integrity. We must stay true to God’s Word, never compromising on the truth that is written therein. As we examine the life of Joseph and his faith that produces integrity, we find both a description of integrity and the results of integrity.
There are four basic descriptions of integrity. If you are a person with good integrity, these things will be evident in your life. The first description of integrity is Complete Honesty. The account of Joseph’s life begins in Genesis chapter thirty-seven and continues to Genesis chapter fifty. Joseph was a son of Jacob whose name was changed to Israel. In chapter thirty-seven of Genesis we find that Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than he did all his other sons. I guess you can say that Joseph was a little spoiled. His father gave him a fancy coat of many colors. This special attention that was given to Joseph caused his brothers to brood with jealousy. As time goes on, Joseph has a dream. In the dream, which you can read about in Genesis thirty-seven, Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him. Joseph was scolded by his father for telling such a story, but even in the midst of it all, Joseph was completely honest. He did not lie about the dream, it really did happen. You can say that Joseph may have had a problem with pride at this time in his life, but through it all, he was honest. We see his honesty continue even after he is sold into slavery and is serving in Egypt. There was a time after he gained power in Egypt that he withheld the truth for a while when his brothers came for food, but over all we can say that Joseph was an honest man. You see, a person of integrity is going to be honest in every way. The old saying, ‘honesty is the best policy’, has a lot of truth. Are you an honest person? Are you honest in the work place or do you cut corners? Are completely honest with your financial dealings or do you try to get the advantage? As we live the faith life, it will produce integrity in our lives which will then be evident in our complete honesty.
A second description of integrity is Perfect Purity. In Genesis chapter thirty-nine there is a turn of events in Joseph’s life. While a slave in Egypt he finds himself in Potiphar’s home who is an official of Pharaoh. Because of Joseph’s integrity he is elevated to a high position and is placed in charge of all of Potiphar’s house. Over a period of time, Potiphar’s wife takes a liking to Joseph. She begins to lust after him and tempts him to have an affair with her. However, Joseph refused. One day, Potiphar is out of town and his wife takes advantage of the opportunity. She grabs Joseph and she compels him to be with her. Joseph then ran from the situation as fast as he could as Potiphar’s wife grabs his coat. When she saw that Joseph would not have her, she falsely accuses him and Joseph is thrown into prison. Joseph was a man of perfect purity. He would not defile himself even if it meant he would be thrown into prison. There are several nuggets of truth that we can learn from this account. The first nugget is to be careful with your eyes. In verse seven of Genesis thirty-nine, Potiphar’s wife ‘cast her eyes upon Joseph.’ Her desire for Joseph began with a look. When it comes to living in purity we must be careful with what we look at. It is often said, and I believe it is true, that men struggle in this area more so than women. But, here we find a women lusting after a man. This is not just a temptation for men, it is something that women struggle with as well, and perhaps more so than we may think. We live in a society where it is hard not to look. You do not have to go looking for temptation, it will find you. It is all around us, billboards, newspaper stands, television, the internet, and immodest dress. In order to keep ourselves pure, we have to have certain safeguards in place. Personally, I have a filter system on my computer called ‘safe eyes’ that will block those things that I do not need to see and it will also send reports to my wife and to accountability partners who will see what is taking place on my computer. Recently, I set up our television in such a way that certain content and ratings would not be able to be accessed without a password. Why do I do this? You may say, ‘you’re a pastor, you should not have to worry about temptations’. Well, let me tell you something, I am just as much of a red-blooded American male as the next guy. I take those measures to protect myself from myself because I do not trust myself. Be careful with your eyes. Another nugget that we see here in this account is that we must run from temptation. Joseph was in a very difficult situation. He’s only escape was to run away. There are times when our backs are against the wall and we are in a moment of weakness and the only thing we can do is run. You may say, well, we should face temptations and fight them. I don’t know about you, I’d rather retreat into the arms of Jesus than face a temptation that I know in my flesh I will not be able to resist. A final nugget that we learn from this account is to be careful where you are. Yes, Joseph was a good man. He was honest and pure. However, he did fail in one area. He was a little too trusting and naïve. He went into the house at a time when there was no one else around. In other words, He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In order to stay pure, we must be careful with where we are. Don’t put yourself into a situation where you will be tempted to sin or give opportunity to be falsely accused. There has been many people that have been accused of wrong doing when they did nothing wrong. Most every time someone is accused falsely, it is because they were in the wrong situation. To live in perfect purity, we must be careful with where we are, who we are with, and who we are talking to, and yes that even includes communications on the internet and social networking sites. All it takes is one word taken the wrong way, or being seen alone with someone, or embracing someone who is not your spouse, all it takes is one innocent little thing taken the wrong way to cause a bad thought in someone’s mind or cause someone to accuse you. Let me tell you something, Satan is constantly setting you up, especially if you are involved in serving the Lord. Be careful where you are; having integrity means that you live in perfect purity.
Another description of integrity is wise decision making. Joseph was obviously a very impressive man. While in prison he was trusted by the guards and was given certain responsibilities. After being released from prison he is placed in charge of Egypt during a time of famine. You know the account, Joseph stores away food for seven years in order to have provisions for the seven years of famine that was to come. He thought things through and he was very wise in the decisions that he had to make. A person with integrity will make wise choices. What about you? So often we find ourselves paying for the poor decisions that we made in our past. I know it has happened in my life many times. Even now, I am paying for poor financial decisions that I made several years ago. One thing we need to understand is that every decision we make today has an impact on tomorrow. Whether those are small decisions or large decisions, they will have a lasting impact on your life. In order to make wise decisions, we must make sure we live according to the practical principles that are given to us in God’s Word. The Bible gives us principles to live by concerning every area of our life: education, raising children, careers, employment, finances, ministry, and the list goes on. In order to make wise decisions we must be students of the Bible. Living the life of faith produces the integrity that is needed in our lives in order to make wise decisions.
A final description of integrity is faithfulness in the times of trouble. Joseph went through a lot. He was soled into slavery by his own brothers, he was falsely accused and thrown into prison, he had the responsibility of feeding the world in a time of famine, and he had to accept his brothers and forgive them. Joseph went through more in his life than many of us ever will face. Yet, in the midst of all the trouble, he was faithful. You see, a person of integrity is someone who holds true to what they believe no matter what. Is that a description of your life? Do you never fall or waver? Do you stay true to what you believe even in times of trouble?
Not only do we see a description of integrity, but also notice the results of integrity. There are two basic results of integrity: Honor and Reward. Joseph was constantly being placed in a place of honor. He was rewarded at the end of his life by seeing his family with him in Egypt and foreseeing the promise that one day his family would be in the promise land. You see, living with integrity can be difficult, just ask Joseph. However, the honor and the reward are worth it all. God sees your life. He knows how you are living. If you are living with integrity, God sees, even if no one else does. God will bless and reward you and honor you for living such a life. But, it all begins with faith. Integrity begins with a having a confident expectation in God’s Word in such a way that His Word is a reality in your life. Do you have such a faith that it is producing integrity in your life?

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