Wisdom Needed

Genesis 44:1-13

1Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. 2Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.

3As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? 5Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’”

6When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. 7But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! 8We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”

10“Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.” 11Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.

Election Notice

You may have received your election notice. Have you decided who you may vote? Do you agree that God decides who should be elected as leaders?

Sometime ago, a regular member was nominated to the Board of Deacons but he objected his nomination, and he reasoned out, “Well, I am not a manager, because it says in says in the Scriptures, A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.’” (1 Timothy 3:12)

His humorous response hid his actual reason of not wanting to be deacon. He viewed that he’s not qualified according to the biblical standards for deacons.

Would you agree that the nomination process can be God’s instrument of calling believers to join the leadership ministry? Did the Lord establish authorities in the church for us to learn how to respect with humility?

It says in 1 Peter 5:5-6, 5Submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 6Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 

Believers are called to lead people to the Lord. Some are gifted to lead many. Others are called to lead a few. And, we are all expected to be humble. Humility is fruit of the Holy Spirit. Humility is an attribute of great leaders.

Who was considered as the greatest leader of Israel? Moses! Moses was not very eloquent but he was very humble. It says in Numbers 12:3, 3Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.

How about Joseph? Was he a great leader? Some Bible students suggest that when Joseph was young, he was boastful. He wore his special robe when he went to see his brothers in the field. His robe should be used for special occasion but Joseph used it while strolling in the countryside. His brothers hated him more!

In his dreams, God revealed His great plan for him but Joseph was not ready for great responsibilities, just yet. He was proud! What happened next?

His brothers sold him as slave, falsely accused, and imprisoned in Egypt.

Joseph experienced tough troubles that prepared him for greater responsibilities.

James 3:13 says, 13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

Slowly but surely, Joseph’s wisdom increased. He observed how traders negotiate in business transactions when he was sold as slave. He learned how to motivate servants when he served as servant and then promoted to manage the household of Potiphar. He learned how to deal with difficult people while in jail and won the trust of the warden who let him administer activities inside prison.

Tough challenges are very significant in making tough decision. And, when Joseph was ready for great responsibilities, he was appointed to govern Egypt.

Joseph had chosen servants who would readily implement his instructions.

1. Instruct

   1Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. 2Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.

The first time the brothers came to Egypt, Joseph was harsh and accused them as spies. He also ordered Simeon to be imprisoned. They were scared and went home as fast they could without inspecting their luggage. In Canaan, they were shocked to find the money they paid for the grain inside the sacks.

Fast-forward, the brothers returned to buy grain again. This time, they’re treated with generous hospitality from the same harsh ruler who accused them as spies. They felt comfortable. But, Joseph had another similar plan.

Joseph instructed that their money be returned. Did he give similar order the first time the brother came to buy grain? Your guess is good as mine! The brothers didn’t learn. They went home but didn’t inspect their luggage. Again!?! Probably, they were still sleepy. They were sent home early in the morning.

Maybe, they’re just overwhelmingly glad. They’re treated with generosity. No trouble happened unlike the first time. Simeon was also released from prison, and Benjamin their youngest brother was with them. Everything seemed fine!

3As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? 5Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’”

When Joseph said that he uses the cup for divination, it was not just to inform his brothers but indirectly, Joseph had warned his servants that by using divination, he knew the secret things that others cannot understand.

It was also a warning to keep his scheme secret and not to tell anyone.

The servants may have believed that Joseph had special power. Why not? Pharaoh had dreams but nobody can interpret them except Joseph. The Lord gave Joseph ability to interpret dreams, and he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams.

Moreover, God also gave Joseph wisdom to advise Pharaoh accordingly.

Do you agree that God made Pharaoh believe Joseph’s interpretation?

Do you agree that God made Pharaoh sensed the Spirit of God in Joseph so that he appointed him to be the governor of Egypt?

When we rely upon the Lord, the great plan of God for us will be realized.

No Experience

Friends, relatives, superiors, teachers, and many doubters would say, “You can’t be great leader. You have no experience.” Well, prove them wrong. How? Trust the Lord. That’s exactly what David experienced. He relied upon the Lord.

When the young David presented himself to fight the giant Goliath, King Saul was apprehensive of his ability. It says in 1 Samuel 17:33-37:

33Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

Lion, bear and Goliath are scary. Some troubles can scare us. The Lord will rescue us from scary and giant troubles if we rely upon Him just like David.

King Saul had battle experiences but he’s scared of the Giant Goliath. Goliath was a war veteran but David used him as perfect target practice for greatness.

David was Israel’s greatest king and victorious in all his battles because he trusted in the Lord. He said in Psalm 18:34, 34He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. And he also testifies in Psalm 144:1, 1Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.

We may not go to actual battles like David but like we may face trouble like Joseph. Joseph had cruel brothers who sold him. He was falsely accused and imprisoned but he continued to trust in the Lord. We need wisdom to overcome our battles? It says in James 1:5, 5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Joseph’s brothers lacked wisdom. They had troubles each time they went to Egypt. They didn’t check their luggage. They were so naïve and confused. They were accused but insisted that they were innocent of any crime.

2. Insist

6When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. 7But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! 8We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”

Have you had that personal experience when someone accused you of something, and you want to defend yourself as innocent? You knew you did what was right but still others would accuse you of an offense you did not commit.

How do you normally react to such? How do you defend your innocence?

The brothers of Joseph insisted that none of them committed such crime. They even brought back the silver they found inside their sacks as proof that they were just sincere without malice in their business transactions. They’re confident that their innocence can save them from the accusation against them.

Pharisees

Apostle Paul testified in Philippians 3:4-6, 4If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

When Paul claim to be faultless as Pharisee, did Pharisees assume of themselves as faultless because they diligently obeyed God’s commandments? After Paul put his faith in Christ, he advised that to become righteous in eyes of the Lord, we’ve got to put our faith in Christ. It’s not by obeying His laws.

Obedience to God’s law should be the result of our practice of faith in Him.

It says in Romans 3:20-24, 20No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. 21But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known… 22This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

The brothers of Joseph were accused of stealing the silver cup of Joseph. That incident illustrates our situation before God. We may do what we think is right but not enough to reached God’s standard. We are imperfect. God is perfect. The Lord’s standard of righteousness is flawless. Similarly, Joseph’s brothers assumed they did what’s right but still they were accused of a crime.

They were shocked to be found guilty after their luggage was inspected.

3. Inspect

10“Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.” 11Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.

The brothers were confident that they were innocent. They said that he who has the silver cup will die and the rest will be slaves of Joseph’s steward. When they opened their sacks for inspection, they were shocked that the silver cup was inside the sack of Benjamin. How would you react if you’re in such situation?

On Judgment Day, many will be shocked that billions will be found guilty.

Many individuals resist God. They don’t want to trust in Jesus. Why?

They don’t want to obey God. They want their freedom to do whatever is pleasant to them. They don’t want anybody who would make them feel guilty.

It says in Romans 4:15, 15Because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

Romans 5:13 says, 13To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.

Other’s may argue similar to Romans 7:7 and say, 7What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

It takes faith to believe that the commandments of the Lord are useful to determine the things pleasant or unpleasant to God. Still many would assume that obedience to God is favorable to God because what God requires are things that please Him. We need the Spirit of God to understand why He commands us.

Who is the author of life? God! Who knows what life is the most pleasant? God! Who decides which lifestyle is best for mankind? God! Does it make sense that the commandments of the Lord are guidelines for best lifestyle that can be experienced by obedient believers? Actually, obedient believer is redundant.

To believe is to obey. It says in Galatians 2:16, 16Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

Our perfect God can always find fault in us. The best human efforts can never reach the perfection of God. We can only become righteous before God through faith in Jesus Christ. No other way! Faith in Christ is best proven practically by obedience to His commands and lifestyle acceptable to Him.

When Joseph’s brothers offered themselves as slave to his steward, they admitted the reality that they cannot save their selves if they were found guilty. They relied much upon their innocence. They thought that they were not guilty.

Imagine that the steward had with him a company of soldiers so that they did not resist but willingly returned to Egypt. Perhaps, in their minds while they returned to Egypt, they expected the worst life they could have as slave of the harsh ruler. They found out later that returning to the harsh ruler of Egypt was only the best situation happened to them in the time of sever famine.

Returning to the harsh ruler was also best situation ever for their family.

Interestingly, the limited human mind cannot conceptualize that the Lord’s commandments are godly design for best life experience for all who believe and obey them. Believers who struggle in obeying God’s commands may assume that their life is worst as slave because of God’s commands.

It says in Romans 6:16-23, 16Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

19Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If we trust the Lord to give us eternal life, it should follow that we also trust Him to provide us for our practical needs, right? Our lifestyle and mindset would prove practically if we really trust Christ for the practical things we need.

If only we seek first His kingdom and His righteous, all the practical things that we need will be added as well, but it takes faith of course! If we let Christ perform as Lord in our life, He enables us to live righteously, and He provides our practical needs. It says in 2 Peter 1:3-4, 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

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