“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:41)
Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Power can be an awful weapon in the wrong hands, whether it is physical power, political power, or even police power. Psalm 62:11 says, “…power belongeth unto God.” God ultimately holds all power. He lends people small pieces of it for a time, but it must be exercised in the fear of God: “…He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” (2 Samuel 23:3).
As an officer, you have power over others. You have power to take their property and their freedom. You have power to use force on them—even deadly force. You have power to generate criminal cases that can damage them for life. You could do much good with police power, or much evil. Whether or not you believe it to be true, your police power has not just been given you by your department. It has been given you by God. “…there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Romans 13:1). Don’t misuse the power God has allowed you to have. You have not been given power in order to serve yourself. You have been given power in order to serve God and others.
Joseph is now the second-most powerful man in Egypt. He is in a place of power. It’s also a place of temptation to misuse that power. If Joseph had wished, he may have been able to have Potiphar and his wife executed for having him imprisoned falsely. However, we see nowhere that he did that. God was with Joseph in Potiphar’s house and in the prison. God is still with Joseph to guide and help him in the place of power. Joseph knows that the power he has is not about him, but about God.
The famine has begun. People flock to Egypt for food. One day ten men show up. Joseph knows them, but they don’t know him. They are his brothers who sold him into slavery. He was separated from his family and suffered much because of them. Years later, they come to him in need. They may know his Egyptian name of Zaphnathpaaneah, but they don’t recognize him. He’s not the fresh-faced youth they had sold years ago. He’s now much older.
Did Joseph have power over them? Yes. Was he tempted to be bitter? Maybe. Could he have had them arrested as spies and executed or imprisoned? Probably. Did they deserve harsh treatment for what they’d done to him? Certainly. Yet Joseph heard them talk among themselves about how they were in trouble for what they’d done to Joseph. They didn’t know that he’d understood every word they said. Look at what he did! “And he turned himself about from them, and wept” (Genesis 42:24).
Joseph wept in compassion for his brothers. He knew that they didn’t just need food—they needed to be forgiven by him, and most importantly, by God. Joseph could have used his power to serve himself and destroy them, but he used his power to serve God, not himself. Just like Joseph wanted to forgive and save his brothers in spite of what they’d done to him, so the Lord Jesus wants to forgive people of their sins and save them so they’ll be with Him in heaven, in spite of their sins against Him. Jesus said, “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:56).
Do you have a grudge against someone? If so, please think of Joseph and how God worked grace into his life to love his brothers. Ask the Lord to give you grace not to harbor grudges but to seek for people to know Jesus as Saviour. If you’ve not seen in the Bible how to be sure to get to heaven, please click “How do I go to Heaven?” on the sidebar.
Brian Miller 4/23/2015
Cleveland Baptist Church 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144 216/671-2822