I don't think it's any surprise in making the statement that men of God have true character. Men walk in the character formed in their lives by God’s Word and His Ways. This is what makes them men of character. When we fail in our character, we failed to hold true somewhere in God’s principles. But we also fail in the truth that keeps us right with ourselves as well as God. This truth that you failed yourself as well as God is sometimes overlooked.
Holding true to God’s Ways and His Words is a must, but holding to who you believe you are before God as well as those around you, is also a must. Being faithful to God but also faithful to yourself is true character. This is what makes us a two edged sword. I would like to take a look at certain men of the Bible and examine their way of thinking to see what made them such men of character.
Let's start with Joseph. A Bible story that has been brought out in multiple books, and from animated videos to hollywood movies. This story begins with a dream from God, then being sold by family members into slavery, falsely accused and put in prison, then a ruler of Egypt. I will pick up the story in an earlier place when Joseph was a slave. The story goes that his master saw how good at managing things was for him, and scripture tells us that it was due to God’s favor. But the master's wife, when her husband was not around, wanted to sleep with him and constantly persisted in trying to get him to do so. Joseph continually refused. The master's wife, mad from being turned down, accuses him of doing it anyway and off to prison Joseph goes. But I want to particularly bring out Joseph’s reasons for not sleeping with the masters wife.
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, "Come to bed with me!" 8 But he refused. "With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. NIV
Obviously you can draw many principles out of this, but let's focus on just four for right now.
- But he refused. "With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care”.
- “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?"
- though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
- But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
First: He knew what it was to be found faithful. He remained faithful to the job given to him. He was entrusted to do a job and it was an important value to him to be found faithful. A quality in a person's self image greatly lost in today’s society. The true test of faithfulness is how you think of the jobs given to you. How do you see yourself in these jobs? Do you value to be found faithful even when no one knows? So many in today's society take on jobs but try to do as little as possible for as much money as they can get. They do not do their job as unto the Lord (Col.3:23). They do not see themselves as being measured by God as well as man. They just see it as what they can get out of it for themselves with as little effort as possible. As Christians, we should be the employees people never want to let go, and we should be the kind of people employers look for.
The most important thing about being found faithful is remaining true to yourself. Know who you are. I saw a movie many years ago called "City Slickers", and one particular scene in the movie Billy Crystal was being challenged in his morality. The guy was taunting him by saying if you could have sex with the most beautiful woman in the world and no one would ever find out, would you do it? He responded, "No!". The guy says, "Oh come on, I mean no one would ever find out or know period!". He again said no and when the guy asked him why, he said, "Because I would know". A simple response but a profound truth. He would know he’s a cheater, an adulterer, that he was unfaithful. He would know and always have to live with that whether anyone else knew or no one ever knew, he would know. The truth is this, we know when we are not doing the job we are suppose to do. Therefore we need to be true to ourselves and true to those around us as well. This is the value of faithfulness.
Second: Joseph knew he was walking before God, almighty. God was watching. He had an understanding that God was able to see him. This reveals his heart for God. This shows the quality of relationship he had with God. He could not do this in front of God, not just because it was wrong, but wrong to God also. His stand with God was more important than sin. This shows he was in relationship with God and believed God was with him. Many commit sin because they turn this belief off when they want to or need to, but turn it back on when they want something or need something. This will always reveal the quality of your relationship. Do you believe God is there and is watching? If you care about God, then you will do what's right.
Third: He knew not to put himself in the place to be tempted. The story says,“or even be with her". He knew to stay away from her because of what she was trying to do. I tell people all the time to be wise. While I trust myself, love my wife and have a good marriage, I don't trust the devil. He will always try to set you up. If there is something that is in front of you that can cause you to stumble, than stay away from it. This one is amazingly simple yet so many do not put the right checks and balances around them because they don't think they need to. But there is a reason the devil is called our enemy. He has only one agenda and that is to get you to fall. Be wise like Joseph and put the proper checks and balances around yourself. Stay away from things that can cause you to fall. Remember the devil is our enemy.
Fourth: This one is simple like the third one, run. Run for your life if needed. Don't hesitate don't meditate but run away from evil. This doesn't make you a coward, it makes you smart. It doesn't reveal weakness, but strength. If you can't see a way to stand then run. Don't let embarrassment or humiliation of running be the reason you sin. The Bible says flee! Mt.10:23, 1Cor.10:14, 1Tim 6:11, Titus 2:22, 1Cor. 6:18. Even Elijah, one of the most powerful prophets in the Bible knew when to run from Jezebel (1 Kings 19). If you are being tempted by something then get up right then and remove yourself from it geographically. Staying free from sin by running is a powerful move on any Christian's part.
So those are just four quick principles we can take away from the life of Joseph. Remember, our character is important. We as Christians need to do whatever it takes to maintain our character.