Quite often when we’re tempted, we are being challenged to question the goodness and provision of God. We see this in Joseph’s experience.
We know how Joseph was tempted while being Potiphar’s servant. Potiphar’s wife asked Joseph “day after day” (Genesis 39:10) to sleep with her. What temptation! How could Joseph possibly resist? His response to her?
“There is no one greater in this house than I, and he [Potiphar] has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).
We don’t know this but wonder if she hears that and with pouty lips replies while batting her lashes at him, “Are you saying I’m not a good thing? Oh, Joseph, that just breaks my little pea-picking heart.” And then with the most sorrowful, sultry voice she can muster, says, “But I’m the best possible good thing to happen to you!”
(Imagine here for a moment that every evil you are tempted with says the same thing: “I’m good for you and I’ll meet your needs.” That’s what happened in the Garden. The apple looked good! If you’d like to know more about how these ideas were a part of the Garden story, go to the beginning of my series on Eve’s temptation at posts.)
If Potiphar’s wife hounded him day after day, we can assume that Joseph gave the same response day after day. (Or at least that would be wise to become a “broken record.”) How? Remember?
“There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”
He recognizes sleeping with her would be sin. Unless we see our temptation as potential sin, we are dead in the water. (Tweet that!) And notice that he said his sin would be toward God? How curious he doesn’t say, “sin against Potiphar and you.” Ultimately and most importantly, sin is always against God. Sinful King David said the same thing (Psalm 51:4).
And Joseph acknowledges that Potiphar is good and generous to him. And because Potiphar is good, Potiphar wouldn’t withhold anything good from Joseph–that’s really, actually “good” for him. Joseph’s word usage is: “withheld nothing,” which means no good thing has been withheld, including his wife. As a woman, she is “good” for a man, but her position as a wife makes her “not good.” And Joseph makes that distinction. Going to bed with her would not be good, even though in herself she is not bad.
We can make that distinction when we are tempted in something that seems “good.” It may be “good” for the world in general; it may be “good” for another individual; it may be “good” at another time; but if it’s not good for you right now in real time because God says so, it’s not good!
And because God is good and generous, He’s not withholding it from you because He’s some stick-in-the-mud God who hates fun and pleasure, or He doesn’t have enough to spare. He’s withholding it from you because it’s not good for you!
Wonder if we remembered every time we’re tempted that God is good and generous and He won’t withhold anything good from us? (Tweet that!) Do you think it would make a difference?
Would you be willing to share:
- how it could make a difference?
- how you saw it make a difference?
- what it means to you recognizing that God is truly good and generous?
I’d love to hear from you by email (KathyCollardMiller AT gmail DOT com) or here in the comment section.