7 and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully. “Come and sleep with me,” she demanded.
8 But Joseph refused. “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. 9 No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.”
10 She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible. 11 One day, however, no one else was around when he went in to do his work. 12 She came and grabbed him by his cloak, demanding, “Come on, sleep with me!” Joseph tore himself away, but he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house.
Just as we are to be in relentless pursuit of Christ, so is the relentless pursuit of evil to distract and derail us from that pursuit.
I have been reading, meditating and journaling on the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife at great length over the last couple weeks in response to a biblical leadership course I’m taking.
My conclusion; this is no small matter.
I could have told you that long before spending this intentional time in God’s word, for this this is truly one of those stories of affirmation. Sadly however, in many ways that’s all it has been; a revelation into the battle of purity but not yet met with the convictions of Joseph.
There are so many takeaways from this single event; God’s blessings over Joseph in Potiphar’s household, Joseph’s steadfast commitment to purity, honor and justice, Satan’s relentless pursuit in clearly what is one of man’s weakest resistance (lust), Joseph’s persecution even when he was completely innocent and the appearance of being forsaken by God yet imprisonment being necessary to fit into the bigger picture of what God was going to accomplish through his circumstances and gifts years later.
So much rich history to learn from in just this one aspect of Joseph’s story; let alone his entire life.
Today on my heart however, due to the very personal reflection upon my own journey of redemption I am drawn not to the obvious steadfast response we must have to battle the pursuit of evil on us, but more the growing awareness that evil never rests.
Much like C.S. Lewis’ Screw Tape Letters, the demons are constantly looking for ways to distract us, to hinder our sight of Christ and bring it upon the emptiness of ego, lust, pride; even the pursuit of good to miss out on the discovery of great.
Potiphar’s wife was relentless, the NLT says “day after day” (vs. 10).
Can you relate? Is there something in your life that seems like it will never go away?
Sadly for 40 years my desire to escape uncomfortable emotions has been met with a fleeing into fantasy. Whether it be video games, pornography, delusions of grandeur (I’m going to be a great preacher, a world-renown author, a famous life coach, a sought after project manager, a richly successful business consultant, ad nauseam) or other escapes from reality; the result is always the same: a moment of taking my eyes off of Christ that leads to defenselessness against the relentless pursuit of the Enemy.
If you’ve read any of my testimony or followed my blog over the years you would have seen my story unfolding. A young boy abused physically, emotionally and sexually turning to drugs early (middle school), gaining sobriety at the age of 21 (without Christ) and living a life in pursuit of all that this world has to offer; and obtaining much of it.
In the end however the world will always leave us empty. Satan is happy to relentlessly entice us with desires for the unfulfilling.
Just ask the Olympic gold medalist who after years in relentless pursuit finds himself then asking “now what”. Or the business tycoon who spent his whole life relentlessly pursuing the top spot, only to find himself surrounded by empty relationships and false friends. Or the rich man who can never find peace and rest always searching for that next tier. Or the junky near death seeking that next high that will help him forget. Or the sex addict who just needs one more hook-up to feel better.
When we come to Christ, all the pursuits “should” end for we have arrived at the one place He desires for us most; to be in relationship with Him alone.
Hebrews 4:1-2 God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. 2 For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.
Luke 10:20 But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.
Exodus 20:6 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.
John 14:21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
Joseph exhibited the only pursuit that should matter to us as disciples of Christ, the pursuit of relationship with the master.
(v. 9b) “…How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God”
Joseph understood the price of relationship, to sacrifice any desires he may have in honor of the one who loved him first; in respect of the one who gave him everything.
We cannot sanctify ourselves (oh if my own words would sink into my own heart) but we can glorify God. When our standing for Christ becomes our sole intention then our relentless pursuit for His glory becomes a greater resolve than the evil that pursues us.
1 John 4:4b …the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
Father God, you know my heart better than I do. You know those areas that I strive and struggle to glorify You and fall short in shame. You call me to lift my head, to stand tall and proud as Your adopted son in spite of those things, that in our weakness Your strength is made greater. I pray this morning Lord not just in gratitude for the wisdom of recognizing Joseph’s relentless pursuit of honoring His master or his respect, fear and running from sin; but I hunger for a renewed strength of character that fills me with the same relentless pursuit of You. May my thoughts be consumed with who You are, may a peace fill me by witness of what You are doing, and a joy consume me over the promises You have for us all. May Your redemptive blood be all that I need, may I find grand contentment not in the ministries and fruit bearing You provide but solely in the joy that comes from being with You, may my soul find rest it so desperately hungers for in You alone this day. In Jesus’ name I pray…