— By LOU TISCIONE
Trust is a precious commodity. Once lost it may never be restored. People tend to develop trust in an individual in whom they see character. We’ve seen public figures who were once trusted and are now held at “arm’s length” because of deceptive and weak behavior.
We know that character concerns a person’s morals and ethics. Character is developed over an extended period of time. We can look at a person’s past and make an assessment of how he or she will act in the future. For example, a person’s record of telling the truth is invaluable in determining that person’s character.
The biblical record of the lives of Joseph and Moses are examples of men of godly character. As you read their stories, the first thing that should come to mind is that these men are not perfect. The Bible does not fail to describe their faults as well as their virtues.
Genesis 39 is a significant part of Joseph’s life that reveals his character. Joseph became a successful man. He was put in charge of the household of an officer of the Pharaoh. We read that the Lord was with Joseph. Joseph had an ongoing relationship with the Lord. As a child, Joseph thought he was of special privilege. As you may recall, his superior attitude angered his brothers to such a degree that they plotted to kill him, but ended up selling him as a slave.
Years later, Joseph who walked with the Lord was blessed by Him. He became very successful. His character was tested at this very comfortable point in his life. The beautiful wife of the officer who entrusted his household to Joseph sought to seduce him. Joseph resisted and Moses recorded what he said. “… Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge … How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:8ff)
Nevertheless Potiphar’s wife persisted in seduction. The Bible records Joseph’s action to flee from her presence so definitively that she grasped his garment in her hand. The officer’s wife wrongly accused Joseph. Her testimony was believed which resulted in Joseph’s imprisonment.
Even in the midst of this injustice Joseph never turned from trusting in the Lord and pursuing godliness. Joseph’s life was a foreshadowing of Christ’s perfect life which is the absolute standard of perfect character. Jesus said of Himself, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)
In order to have the kind of character that Joseph had, one must be humble. Humility is a virtue which enables the one who has it to rightly assess himself before God. Jesus said that He was gentle and lowly in heart. The word from which both gentle and lowly are derived can also be translated as humble.
The Apostle Paul wrote of Jesus’ humility in Philippians 2:6-11. Even though He was God, He did not consider Himself to be equal to God but He humbled Himself by taking upon Himself human nature. Jesus’ humility extended to obeying the Father even to death upon the cross.
The human author of the story of Joseph was himself a humble man. Moses wrote of himself, “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3) The Spirit of God inspired Moses to write these words about himself when his leadership was challenged by two people who were the closest to him.
Like Joseph, Moses’ life demonstrated his trust in the Lord. Even when Moses sinned and God forbid him to enter the Promised Land, he endured the consequence of his sin and continued to obey God.
Character is the measure of a man or a woman. Behavior reveals character and it matters profoundly. Men and women of character are humble and can be trusted. Their character is seen over time.
The one who expects to be trusted must be trust worthy. One who is trustworthy is a person of character. A person of character tells the truth and keeps his word. Jesus said, “Let what you say be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5:37)
Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).