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Faithfulness and Responsibility
Sunday 3rd September


 

While you're finding Genesis 41, I'll read this from Paul.

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:1-11 NRSV

Picking up the story of Joseph in chapter 41 and finally all his faithfulness has paid off. He wasn't bitter or angry, he stayed true to God. The last time we saw him thrown into prison, yet quickly took on responsibility for the other prisoners. This gifted man has been in prison for a long time at least 2 years after he interpreted the dreams of the king baker and cupbearer. Because of his ability to interpret teams and wise discernment, he is called to the palace to help a troubled Pharaoh.

After making a plan to save the nation Pharaoh listens. All Joseph needed was an opportunity. When that opportunity came Joseph was clear about where the source of his talent came from, he gave the glory to God. As Jeremiah 9 says Let those who glory only glory in the lord. 

I read this as…

When we show who we are and our character, by continuing to be faithful to where we are at we are given responsibility then good results will follow. My point this morning is to stay faithful listen to God's spirit and take responsibility 

Scripture 

“Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find anyone else like this—one in whom is the spirit of God?” So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only concerning the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”

Genesis 41:38-41 NRSV

 

Joseph exemplified authentic leadership in practice and through years of life-changing hardship. Through his values, self-control, compassion, and sense of purpose, he earned the trust of high officials, and even more importantly, he was found trustworthy by God, whom he listens to and who consistently blessed his leadership. 

1. Taking responsibility.

When we face difficulties is our first thought, what can we do differently?

The question comes, Am I in this position because of something I did or failed to do? This means taking responsibility which seems to be the godly example. In the case of Joseph, he could say that his misfortune was the result of his brother selling him into slavery all that followed could have made him bitter and resentful and just give up and die in a hole. In his youth, he shared his dreams perhaps naive and with a hint of arrogance. One thing for sure is that learning humility was a long painful lesson.

The apostle Peter wrote that have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing. But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. 

For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God's will than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,”

1 Peter 3:8-9, 14, 16-18 NRSV

The Bible is full of examples of men and women of God taking responsibility and being faithful. Yet many of our stories contain their failures too. How do we learn from these stories and extrapolate lessons for today? Our situations are often very different so we have to look at the principles. 

What does it mean for us to be faithful, listen to God and take responsibility?

Where humanity went wrong was blaming others rather than taking responsibility.  Joseph could have blamed his brothers, fair enough you think, potifars wife yup that's true. Or even the other guys that didn't help him after he helped them.

Let me show you my work…the first humans were created in the image of God and given responsibility for the creation. However they get caught eating the forbidden fruit, pick up the story in Gen 3 12

Genesis 3

“The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.””

Genesis 3:12-13 NRSV

It seems that Adam and Eve tried to shift the blame, God it's your fault, it's the woman you gave me or it's the servant, not my fault he tricked us.

Joseph was different he rose to the challenge wherever he was put, faithful as a servant, faithful as a prisoner and faithful on the throne.

What was it about this man that made him different? Certainly, he had discernment and wisdom but most of all he listened to God.

“And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not I; God will give Pharaoh a favourable answer.”

Genesis 41:15-16 NRSV

Acknowledging that it's God at work in us despite our weakness, the Apostle Paul knew this, In his defence of his leadership, he insisted that he could only glory in his weakness because, in our weakness or humility, Christ is manifest. God resist the proud but gives grace to the humble.

“But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

James 4:6 NRSV

Rosie spoke about treasures in earthen vessels. The context she spoke about means that the glory is not in the pot but what is on the inside that counts. If the treasure is on the inside perhaps it's the inside that needs reforming.

“But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”

2 Corinthians 4:7 NRSV

2. Being found faithful in small things, earning trust for the big things

Joseph faced troubles on every side but never gave up. Was faithful to the values he held and refused to sin against God as we spoke about a few weeks ago.

When Jesus spoke about who will be the greatest his example was those who are prepared to serve. He turned upside the human expectations of greatness 

“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much, and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?”

Luke 16:10-12 NRSV

Being found faithful is the small thing that counts. Being a good steward is a theme Jesus often picks up on, the context here is money.  Jesus warns the leaders against serving money rather than God. 

“The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.”

Luke 16:14-15 NRSV

It is only the Lord who justifies us, in our Joseph example, he has the opportunity to claim credit for his discernment, or if he was angry or bitter he had justification for that too. No, he remains faithful, gives the glory to God and sees the reward.

3. Carry the cross and take responsibility 

Jesus speaks of his return, will he find faith? God is looking for faithfulness to give us responsibility. In Mark's gospel, Jesus speaks of his death and the suffering he will face, Peter rebukes him but he is not mindful of the things of God.

If you want to follow me you have to take responsibility. Following Christ is to take responsibility for our weaknesses, shortcomings and failures repent, and believe in Christ. To deny oneself is to give glory to God. To take up the cross is to bear the responsibility.

“He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Mark 8:34-38 NRSV

Joseph exemplified authentic leadership in practice and through years of life-changing hardship. Through his values, he remained faithful, and self-controlled he refused to sin against God through his compassion he helped others in prison with no sign of redemption, and sense of purpose he remained trustworthy. Therefore he was given responsibility wherever he was, he was faithful, bore his cross and trusted in God.

 

God is able to turn things around to good, in his timing. 

God has given us responsibility. How will we respond? With meekness and gentleness with kindness and humility. 

With the small things can we be trusted? 

Will we trust in God and remain faithful despite suffering and hardships?

Will we justify ourselves and hold on to our hurt? Or allow Christ to take hold of our lives.

Will we take up our cross and follow Christ?

Will we even in tough times of persecution stay faithful listen to God's spirit and take responsibility

 

 

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