Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt."
It would be hard to imagine a more meteoric rise to power. One moment Joseph was languishing in prison, wondering when God will deliver him. The next moment he was interpreting Pharaoh's dreams. And the next moment he was appointed vizier of Egypt, Pharaoh's second-in-command. At only thirty years of age, Joseph has come into greater authority than almost any other person on earth.
As I read this passage, I am struck once again by the way God exalts the humble. As it says in Proverbs 3:34, "The LORD mocks the mockers but is gracious to the humble." James, picking up this theme in his letter, turns it into an imperative, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor" (4:10).
The experience of Joseph foreshadows an even more astounding rise from utter humility to utter authority:
You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How have you dealt with situations in which you have been humbled? Are you able to remain humble, or do you have a need to exalt yourself?
PRAYER: Gracious God, your power is beyond our comprehension. You can do the impossible, like exalting Joseph from ignored prisoner to honored vizier in just a day. Or, like exalting Jesus from crucified shame to divine glory in the blink of an eye.
When we find ourselves in places of humility, when we wish for more recognition or authority, help us to trust you, Lord. May we serve you faithfully and patiently, knowing that you will reward us. Our prize may come in this life, at least in part. But it will come in full when we stand before you and hear your words of approval.
In the meanwhile, Lord, help us to be humble, to be patient, to trust you, and to seek your glory and honor above all else. Amen.