Joseph’s Response to the People’s Hunger

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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"You have saved our lives!" they exclaimed. "May it please you, my lord, to let us be Pharaoh's servants."

Genesis 47:25

In our day, it is common and expected for the government to care for people in need, without taking them as slaves. Thus when we read about Joseph's response to the hunger of the people, it can seem as if he was using his power and advantage to oppress them. This critique may be just, ultimately, because slavery contradicts personal dignity. But in Joseph's day, taking a needy person as a slave was considered humane. In fact, the Egyptian people felt secure because of their new relationship with Pharaoh. This explains their response to Joseph: "You have saved our lives! . . . May it please you, my lord, to let us be Pharaoh's servants."

Jesus taught us to think differently about how to respond to people in need. "Give to those who ask," he said, "and don't turn away from those who want to borrow" (Matt. 5:42). Moreover, Jesus taught, "If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also" (Luke 6:29). Thus, if we find ourselves in a position like that of Joseph, where people are depending on us and in need of our help, we're called to be generous and self-giving. This call impacts all of our life: whether we're employers, parents, teachers, or political leaders.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When people in need have come to you for help, how have you responded? What does it mean for you to put into practice the teaching of Jesus about sacrificial generosity?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, you know how hard it is for me to be generous at times. I can be so concerned to protect what I think of as mine. Forgive me for such stinginess.

And help me, Lord, to do what Jesus taught, to be generous in giving to those in need. Teach me to be wise in knowing how best to respond to the needy people around me, so that my gifts might be truly helpful to them. May my heart be open . . . and my wallet too. Amen.

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