A God-Glorifying Life
BY HARRY L. REEDER III
WE TALK A LOT TODAY about politicians who are affected by secular humanism, as opposed to a Biblical theism. But the real enemy, the mind-enemy, of our age is not secular humanism, but the philosophy that brought forth this idea of secular humanism to begin with. That philosophy is called existentialism.
Existentialism says this: Leave a mark! You affirm the authenticity of your life by leaving a mark in this life.
Having been raised with the philosophy of this age, most of us therefore do want to affirm our existence by leaving a mark. We want to leave a mark in business, in politics, in science or wherever. We want our names recorded somewhere.
Ironically, existentialism, a man-centered development, is built off a valid human desire. You and I are made in the image of God. As such, our lives should be significant. If we are a child of God, we are to affirm the glory of God in our life.
Of all the men of God in the scripture, the one that I see doing this most is Joseph. He didn't do it just in a certain period of his life. He made an impact when he was young and continued to make an impact right to the point of his death.
Joseph no doubt had sins in his life, though none is recorded in the Bible. But he was a God-fearing man. His was a life that gives glory to God. And I would like to examine with you five basic characteristics of his.
I. Man of IntegrityTo start with, Joseph is a man of integrity. Everywhere he goes, he is trusted. He is trusted by Potiphar. He is trusted by the captain of the prison and he is trusted by Pharaoh. He is a man of integrity.
Can that be said of you and me? Are we men and women of integrity?
I read a government report the other day which estimated that 75% to 80% of taxpayers cheat on their income tax to some extent. And do you know that manufacturers commonly price their products by factoring in the cost of theft? Not just people stealing in the stores, but stealing by the people working in the office and the plants. They take office supplies home and make long-distant personal calls without any second thoughts.
And we just kind of accept it in this society. As long as we don't get caught, it's all right.
What a glorious thing to see a man of God who lives under not the eye of surveillance cameras, but the eye of God. Joseph does so when it's right, and he does only what's right. Even when he's in the privacy of a house, he stands firm while Potiphar's wife throws herself at him. He resists unbelievable temptations. He is a man of integrity.
II. Man of HolinessSecondly, he is a man of holiness. He desires to serve God with Biblical obedience.
I was once asked to briefly define saving faith. What is the faith that God graciously gives to a person so that he has a personal relationship with Jesus and knows that he is saved by the blood of Christ? I said, "Well, if there is any one word that describes a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, it's 'obedience'". Every true believer, in the final analysis, is obedient.
Please hear me on this. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it's not because you once walked an aisle, made a decision, or said a certain prayer. It is because, by God's grace, He has caused you to submit your life in repentance of sins unto the obedience of Jesus Christ.
Well, Joseph is a man of obedience. He is a man who seeks holiness of life.
In this election campaign, we are hearing a lot about turning this country around. Listen, the only two things that would change this nation to the better are: (1) God's people proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost so that God changes this nation from the inside out; and (2) God's people displaying the virtues of Christ as they seriously pursue holiness. Then, we will have an impact on society for the glory of God.
III. Man of MinistryJoseph is a man who ministers. He has a servant's heart. And a servant's heart is a must for anyone who desires to make an impact for God's sake.
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:11,12: "He gave some as apostles and some as prophets and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers." Why? "For the equipping of the saints to do the work of the ministry."
The word "ministry" is the same word as "servant". Joseph had an impact not because he was a power broker, but because he was a servant. He had impact because he served, he ministered, he had that kind of heart.
When he was a young man, he served his father. When his brothers were gracing the flocks, he was sent by his father to see if all was well with them. Then he was sold into slavery. What happened? He served Potiphar so well that he was promoted to oversee all of Potiphar's house.
Thrown into jail through conspiracy, he rose up over the entire jail. Why? Because the man was a servant. He was concerned about the crestfallen countenance in a baker and the crestfallen countenance in a cupbearer. He served.
When the Pharaoh got a need, he served; when Pharaoh called for him, he served. He never tried to usurp Pharaoh's authority, though. He always took his position; he was always a servant.
In our society, we have come to believe that we can make a great impact if we are in a position of power. So, we want to be in powerin the home, in the community, and even in the church.
But Jesus says, that's the way the Gentiles work. They lord it over people to control them. In the kingdom of God, the first are last and the leaders are servants. And that's exactly what Joseph did; he ministered and came forth to the glory of God.
If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it's not because you once walked an aisle, made a deci
IV. Man of faithWhen Joseph's father died, the brothers were afraid that he would do them in. But look at what he said
in verse 20 of Genesis 50: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
Can you see history in that perspective?
Many people have a view of history that says that everything repeats itself. They put it this way: what goes around comes around. Most of the fashion people bank on that view of history. (I sometimes bank on it. I keep out-of-date ties and expect their size or pattern to regain popularity some day.)
Other people have a so-called spiral view of history. You either have an upward spiral, with everything getting better, or a downward spiral, with everything getting worse.
But God's people have a linear view of history. It says that history starts at creation and will end when Christ returns and brings it all to His glory. In between, the hand of God is behind the hands of men and women. Even when men do evil, God means it for good. Only a man of faith can make a statement like that.
Joseph demonstrated his faith even at his deathbed. In verse 24, he said to his brothers, "I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."
He was convinced that God would come and deliver his people. Where did that faith come from? The Word of God. He recalled the oath God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Word of God is totally dependable.
Do you believe that? Are you certain that everything that happens in your life is meant by God for good and to the glory of God? If so, your
life will be transformed. When we remember that God is in total control, we will find peace even in times of trials.
V. Man of commitmentFinally, Joseph is a man of commitment. He says to his brothers and I'm paraphrasing: "Take my body, leave it out; I'm committed to the point that God, according to His Word, will yet bring you back to Canaan. So, leave my body out so that when you go there you can take my body and bury it there."
God uses Joseph's death to teach us how to be a man of commitment. Don't plant your life in Egypt, which is a picture of the world, but in God's kingdom instead. Don't root your life in the value system of this world; rather, root it in that of the kingdom of God.
Joseph's commitment was not in vain. After he died, the last verse in Genesis 50 tells us, his body was embalmed, not buried. In Exodus 13, when God took the people out of Egypt, verse 19 tells us that Moses carried Joseph's bones with him. And in Joshua 24:32, Joseph's bones were finally put in the ground in the promised land.
Maybe I could put it this way to you. Joseph died in Egypt but he was not buried in Egypt. He did not care to leave a mark in Egypt. Reflecting his commitment to God, his bones are now in Canaan, the land of promise. It is a picture of his dwelling eternally in heaven.
ApplicationIn closing, let me say to every one of you that knows Jesus Christ: The resurrection power of Jesus that gave Joseph those five characteristics above is in you. To experience that, just take up your cross daily and follow Jesus.
Folks, don't wallow in the bones of this world. Set your eyes on things above. Like Joseph, be a man of integrity, a man of holiness, a man of ministry, a man of faith and a man of commitment. Don't bother with leaving a mark in this world, which is meaningless. Let your life bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. o
Rev. Harry L. Reeder III is pastor of Christ Covenant Church, 305 Pineville-Matthews Road, Matthews, NC 28105.
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