Joseph Flexes His Muscles

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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So Joseph put them all in prison for three days.

Genesis 42:17

When famine ravaged the land of Canaan, Jacob sent ten of his sons to Egypt so that they might buy grain . . . the same ten sons who once sold Joseph into slavery. Little did they know that the Egyptian vizier before whom they humbled themselves was, in fact, their long-lost brother.

Rather than making his true identity known to his brothers right away, Joseph played a game with them, though they had no idea it was just a game. While they feared for their very lives, Joseph taunted them, ultimately throwing them in prison. To be sure, Joseph's deception adds to the drama of the story. But it also reveals Joseph's desire to let his brothers taste a bit of their own medicine.

It's easy for me to understand why Joseph would have deceived his brothers and taunted them. After all, they had made his life miserable for many years. Yet the text of Genesis doesn't insist that we approve of Joseph's actions. Nor does it judge them. Of course, Joseph could have used his power to inflict serious harm upon his brothers, something he chose not to do. But it does seem as if he enjoys flaunting his authority a bit, seeing his brothers flinch and grovel.

Power can do strange things to people. Famously, absolute power corrupts absolutely. When we have power in relationships, whether at work or at home, we must guard our souls, making sure to use our power for God's purposes, and not simply to satisfy our own emotional desires.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Why do you think Joseph toyed with his brothers as he did? Have you ever used your power of people in questionable ways? Do you need power to feel important and valuable?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, though I can understand why Joseph toyed with his brothers, his example makes me look carefully at my own attitudes and actions. Do I use my power for your purposes, or to build up my own ego? Am I a servant leader, or a leader who needs to be over people?

Help me, Lord, to be so submitted to you that I exercise power with grace and humility. May I be a servant leader, following the example of Jesus. Teach me, Lord, to serve my colleagues, my subordinates, and my children. May I never use my power for my own advantage, but always for yours. Amen.

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