Thursday, November 04, 2010

Potiphar’s Wife Desires Joseph - Genesis 39:7-9

And it came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me around, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house that I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?”

Joseph is in charge of everything in Potiphar’s house except Potiphar’s wife. And she has a mind of her own. There was nothing shy about her. She was attracted to Joseph’s handsome form and appearance (Genesis 39:6), desired him physically, and boldly asked him to sleep with her.

Joseph not only refuses but also he rebukes her for what she is asking. He recognizes his position of authority and responsibility. But more importantly he recognizes both the sanctity of marriage (“because you are his [Potiphar’s] wife”) as well his moral obligation to God (“How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?”).

Today we need to stop and think not only of others we know that may have fallen in adultery, but also whether or not we are able to prevent such a fall. These two verses seem to offer four excellent points in dealing with the situation:
1. Understand our position of authority and realize that there are inherent dangers that go along with it. The opportunities to fall into temptation and commit sin are great. We cannot conquer these snares alone; we need the protection and guidance of God at all times.
2. Understand the responsibilities we have to others in our role. These include responsibilities to our employer, our colleagues, our own family, and to those who trust us outside the position. In the case of pastors or leaders, this includes those that rely on us to be, among other things, a strong moral example.
3. Understand and be committed to the sanctity of marriage. For a Christian, the argument of “mutual consent” does not apply when sleeping with another person’s spouse. It did not matter that Joseph was single; his master’s wife was not. Neither Potiphar nor God would have granted such permission and for the Christian, every marriage is a tri-fold bond between husband, wife, and God. In fact, for the Christian, lest I be misunderstood, all adultery is wrong – even when both parties are single.
4. Understand committing adultery is not only “a great evil” but also a “sin against God”. Can He deal with it? Yes, of course He can and He has throughout the Old and New Testament and right through to today when His own children fall, but it does not make Him happy. It breaks His heart. There is a way back, but there are also most often some very real concrete and difficult consequences.

It is my prayer that each of us understands fully the implications of adultery in our lives and is able, with God’s help, to overcome the attractiveness of its fleeting pleasures that last only for a season. Let us do all we can to avoid the nightmares that often last for a lifetime. I pray God will make that a reality in your life and in mine.

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