Monday, November 26, 2012

Lessons from Mrs. Potiphar

Scriptures to consider: Genesis 39:1-23

Mrs. Potiphar is known as a bad girl of the Bible. She was tempted to sin with a good-looking man. She was not only tempted by that good-looking man, but she lusted after him and attempted to seduce him. Matthew 5:28 - "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Mrs. Potiphar had already sinned at that point and she was trying to get Joseph to sin right along with her! When that didn't work, she lied about it to try and cover her tracks.

 “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

Most of us have learned that when we tell one lie, it most often leads to another and another and another. Mrs. Potiphar should have put the brakes on a lot earlier in the story. Like so many of the women of the Bible, we never hear from her again, but I wonder how her husband looked at her from that point on. We see that his anger was aroused, but at who? Joseph, or his wife? Was Mrs. Potiphar known previously for messing around with the hired help? Did her husband question her integrity? Did he believe her accusations, or was he angry that he had lost the best employee of his career? We don’t know these answers.
I think we need to be reminded sometimes that the sin is not in being tempted. The sin is in succumbing to the temptation.

 James 1:12 – 15 “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

Life holds many temptations for each of us. Something that tempts me may not tempt you. Something that tempted me when I was a new Christian may not be a problem anymore.

 I Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

 Let’s make a list of some things that might be temptations to any of us.

·        Sometimes for myself, I let my own personal relationship with God suffer while meeting the needs of my family or even the church – this can be a temptation for any of us.
·        Like Mrs. Potiphar, sometimes a good-looking guy can tempt us.
·        Lying
·        Gossip
·        Cheating on income taxes
·        “Stealing” from the office
·        Using foul language or unnecessary “euphemisms”
·        Jealousy
·        Hating our brother
·        Holding grudges
·        Alcohol
·        Smoking
·        Complaining
·        Not complying with copyright laws on music and computer software
·        Speeding
·        Being lazy
·        Forsaking services
·        Desiring riches or a name
The list can go on and on. Satan throws many things in our way and just hopes that one of them will ensnare us. Not just trip us, he likes that too, but he wants to ensnare us. Can you visually see the difference in those two words? Trip and ensnare?

What’s a woman to do? How can we avoid these things?

How about trying the 15 minute rule?

1. IDENTIFIVE the problem. Isolate the issue. In the first 5 minutes, assess what it is you want! Why do you want that? What will be the consequences? Is it worth it?

The Bible tells us to be on guard for temptations - So we should identify what tempts us, which we’ve just done, and be watchful. We may each want to spend some time prayerfully considering this at home too.

Ephesians 5:15-16 – “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Hebrews 4:15 – “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Christ understands the temptations of this life. He lived on this earth and dealt with everything possible. He is our example. 

So, take 5 minutes. Step aside from the temptation. Once you see what it is and consider why you are even considering it, perhaps you’ll stop.

2. Pay ATTENTION! Concentrate on a solution for yourself. Distract yourself if necessary. What could you do for 10 minutes to stop yourself from indulging? 

List things …journal, drink a glass of water, pray, take a walk, read your Bible, phone a friend, brush your teeth, clean your bathroom, do some housework, exercise, surround ourselves with support.

Mrs. Potiphar sent her servants away – big mistake for her - leave the office door open when meeting with a male coworker, take the kids with us when we chat with the handyman, carry along a photo of husband when we travel without him, keep a photo of our family on our desk or at workspace, be appropriately dressed at all times! Spend time with other Christians; consider your companions and surroundings.  Seek our husbands out before, not after.

If our minds are full of steamy romance novels or sexy movie or soap opera stars - #1, we should consider what we are filling our minds with and #2, channel our desires towards our husband.  Genesis 3:16 – “To the woman He said: … Your desire shall be for your husband.”  Perhaps Mrs. Potiphar wouldn’t have been so forward with tempting Joseph if she and her husband had met each other’s needs. 

In 15 minutes, reassess the behavior. Is it worth the consequences?

When we stumble, confess don’t cover-up.  Don’t fall into playing the “blame game” – his fault, her fault, God’s fault. Take responsibility for our thoughts and actions. Seek forgiveness from God and whoever we’ve hurt in the process of our sins. 

Psalm 120:2 – “Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue.”

Proverbs 6:16-19 – “These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.”

Do you think some of these techniques will be able to help stop you from indulging in that sin? Will you be able to distract yourself so you will not partake the next time? Congratulations! You’ve just practiced self-control! Self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit and something that we should all strive to have. When we are tempted, we get a chance to exercise that self-control, and like most things, the more they’re exercised the stronger they become. The more self-control we practice, the better at it we become.
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
2 Peter 1:5-7 “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness, love.
James 1:12 – “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
James 4:7 – “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”


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