God gave Joseph a dream concerning his future, but the problem was that he did not have the character base to accomplish the dream. His character had to be refined to stand up to the pressures and responsibilities that the Egyptian pharaoh would place on him. He was exalted to second in command of all Egypt when he came through the test. Here below is his dream:
5Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: 7We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it." 8His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said (Genesis 37:5-8).
What's your dream? What do you want to accomplish with your life? You are becoming today what you will be tomorrow, so what does success look like to you? I like to think that every one of us wants to impact the world somehow, for the world to be a little bit better because each of us was here, at least for the people around us. A perfectly refined character is much better than success, but if you have godly character and make yourself available to God, you will experience both. Aim to be someone more than to do something.
Dr. Lloyd-Jones, the writer and pastor, used to say that the worst thing that can happen to a person is for him to be successful before he's ready. We only have to look at our sports heroes to see how fame and recognition can destroy a person's life if one does not have the character base to go with the level of notoriety. Without character, the inner man fails under such popularity, and many often fall into pride and sin. We can talk about Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, Bernie Madoff, and others. What kind of task or measure of success can God entrust to you?
Martin Luther, the reformer, was entrusted with bringing the Church back to the Bible. When the most powerful men in all of Europe wanted him to abandon his faith in Christ as revealed in the Scriptures, he would not recant from living according to the sacred writings. When Luther appeared before the court of Emperor Charles V, he was shown a stack of his writings and was called upon to recant or retract his beliefs. Luther replied, "Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear, and distinct grounds of reasoning, then I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience." Then he added: "Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me! Amen." Before his death, Luther recalled that day. "I was afraid of nothing; God can make one so desperately bold."
A godly character such as what Martin Luther displayed only comes about through long preparation in the furnace of suffering. What about the training of Joseph, the son of Jacob? God had to work on Joseph if he was going to accomplish all that God had planned for him—to save his family from the famine and ruin that was several years ahead. Joseph wasn’t ready for the responsibility that God had for him; instead, he was arrogantly parading himself in the coat his father had made for him, a rich coat of many colors that told all as to who was boss. When his father sent him to Dothan to check on his brothers, he went wearing the robe. Don’t you think that was a bit foolish? The robe distinguished him as the heir of Jacob’s dynasty. He was also boasting to his brothers that they would be bowing down before him, a little skinny kid of seventeen. God’s way of preparing him for the throne of Egypt was to be rejected by his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold as an enslaved person, charged unjustly with attempted rape, and finally end up in a dungeon. Perhaps you, too, have wondered why you are going through various trials. I can't say I know what God is doing in your life, just as I don’t always understand all that He is doing in my life, but I know that we can trust Him. Keith Thomas
If you'd like to share these thoughts on social media, there are Facebook and Twitter links at the bottom of the page and the link to send on an email.
J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership, Moody Bible Institute. Page 60.