Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.
—Philippians 2:3

Joseph was humble; he put the interests of others above himself. Joseph could have said to his brothers, “I forgive you for what you did to me 25 years ago, but I don’t want to have anything to do with you the rest of my life.” But Joseph didn’t do that. He continued to work on their behalf. He continued to put their interest and the interest of God above his own, and that’s the definition of humility. Humility is placing the interests of others and of God above your own.

In the early days of the Civil War, things were not going well for the Union. Abraham Lincoln was frustrated by his general, George McClellan, so he took the unprecedented step of going to the general’s house instead of summoning the general to the White House. He went with Secretary of State William Seward and John Hay to General McClellan’s house. The servant said the general was attending a wedding, so they waited in the parlor until the general returned. An hour later, the general arrived home from the wedding. The servant told him the president was there to see him. Upon hearing that news, McClellan promptly went to bed without saying a word to President Lincoln. Seward and Hay were appalled by McClellan’s lack of respect, but Lincoln pointed out that “it was better at this time not to be making points of etiquette and personal dignity.” In a similar episode after waiting for McClellan to keep an appointment, Abraham Lincoln responded, “Never mind. I will hold McClellan’s horse, if he will just bring us successes.” That’s what made Lincoln a great president. He put the interest of a greater cause above his own need for respect. That’s humility.

That’s what Joseph did. And Joseph illustrates what Jesus did for us. You know, Jesus showed humility by his willingness to come and to die for our sins, but He could have stopped there. He could have said, “I forgive you of your sins, but you’re on your own from now on.” But He didn’t do that. Even after He gave us eternal life, the Bible says right now Jesus is at the right hand of God the Father and He is working on our behalf. He is interceding for us before God. Ephesians 2:18 says, “For through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.”

Joseph’s brothers had no ability to go to Pharaoh on their own; they needed a mediator to represent them before Pharaoh. In the same way, we need a mediator to represent our interests before God the Father. We don’t need a human priest; we need the only true priest, Jesus Christ. The Bible says, “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). That is what Jesus is doing for us. He is interceding on our behalf.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Lessons in Leadership” 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.

Illustration from William Lee Miller, “Bull Run and Other Defeats: Lincoln’s Resolve,” chap. 8 in “President Lincoln” (New York: Doubleday, 2008).

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