Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there.
—Genesis 39:1

Oscar Wilde once said, “I can resist everything but temptation.” Unfortunately, he lived by that maxim and his life ended in disappointment, destruction, and disgrace.

Sadly, many people today also live by that philosophy. They feel that when temptation comes they have no choice but to give in–but the results are not what they expect. When they yield to temptation, their lives are marked by broken relationships, unsatisfied desires, and distance from God. This week as we continue our study of living a life that matters, we will look at an episode in Joseph’s life that illustrates how to say no when temptation comes.

Genesis 39:1 tells us, “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there.” Who was Potiphar? Some Bible scholars believe he was the chief executioner of Egypt. Potiphar was likely a hardened, no-nonsense kind of guy.

Why did Potiphar buy Joseph as a slave? Unlike what you may have thought, Potiphar didn’t buy Joseph from the Ishmaelites because he felt sorry for him. And he didn’t purchase Joseph in order to set him free. Potiphar purchased Joseph because he wanted him as a slave, and he probably got a good deal on Joseph because he was a foreigner. So Potiphar brought Joseph to his house to serve him along with his other servants.

Think about the drastic change that has occurred in Joseph’s life. Just a short time earlier, he had been the favored son in a wealthy family. Now he is a slave in a foreign country, surrounded by strangers who are speaking an unfamiliar language. Joseph must have felt abandoned by God.

When God sends tests into your life, they usually involve a change you could never have anticipated. Some of you may be experiencing that right now. Things were going along just fine when out of nowhere something happened. Perhaps it was a pink slip from your employer. Maybe it was a bankruptcy. Maybe a sudden illness struck you or a loved one. Maybe it’s an unexpected divorce. Whatever the reason, you are in a place you never anticipated, and you can empathize with Joseph’s situation.

Notice, though, what verse 2 says about God: “The Lord was with Joseph.” Even though Joseph felt abandoned by God, God had not abandoned Joseph. Sometimes it takes an experience like this for us to realize God is in control.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “When Temptation Comes” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.