INTEGRITY by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC
Introduction: This weekend being President’s Day weekend, we were discussing what would be a message we all need to hear. Somebody suggested that it should be on “Integrity in Leadership.” How many of you would agree that we need some integrity in our nation’s leadership? How many of you would also agree that we all can use more integrity in our own lives? Unfortunately, the standards of integrity are not rising but dropping more than ever. Main point: Integrity is who you are when only God is watching. It refuses to join the crowd and chooses to stand alone. It rejects immediate gratifications and waits for ultimate gains. It recognizes the power of sin and distrusts the power of self.
Gen. 39:7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
Context: The response that Joseph gave was decided years earlier when he was just a young boy. Let me explain what I mean by backing up two chapters to Genesis 37 3“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.” At first reading, it may seem that Jacob set his son Joseph up to be hated by playing favorites, but if you back up to verse 2, you will see more – 2 “…Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father.” Also keep in mind that Jacob was now Israel, the man who wrestled with God and won. God had given him this promise in Genesis 35:11 “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body.” Jacob/Israel was now living for that promise. Among all his sons, Joseph was different. There was something different about him and that’s why he made him the coat of many colors, which was a ruler’s robe. Of course, this irritated the brothers. To make matters worse, Joseph started having some interesting dreams. Genesis 37 5 Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. 6 So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: 7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. 9 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” 10 So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” 11 And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
What a powerful vision of the future! In our last series “Operation Fortify,” we talked about the importance of having a vision for your life and marriage. When there is no vision, there is nothing to live for. Actions don’t matter. It’s all about the here and now. Integrity refuses to join the crowd and chooses to stand alone because there is a vision.
Application: What vision do you have for the future? What has God shown you that you are living for? Do you talk about that with your children?
Then, the narrative picks up speed. Jacob sent him to check on his sons as they were grazing the sheep near Shechem. He doesn’t find them there, but someone directs him further to Dothan. His brothers saw him at a distance and conspired to kill him. People choose immediate gratifications because there are no ultimate gains. Reuben talks them out of killing him and they throw him in a pit without water. Judah talks them into selling him to some “Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead with their camels, bearing spices, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry them down to Egypt.” Those Ishmaelites or Midianites brought him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharoah and captain of the guard.Genesis 39 2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field. 6 Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Keep in mind that he is a slave in Egypt, but God’s plan is working. Joseph could have complained about being unjustly treated by his brothers, but he chose to focus on working hard, and God kept blessing him.
Application: Do you focus all your time and effort on your misfortunes or are you busy serving God? Do you have a victim mentality or are you living for the vision of God?
When God is busy blessing you, Satan is not far behind. Genesis 39:6 “…Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
What a powerful statement! He does not want to take advantage of his master, but, even more so, he does not want to sin against God.
Application: Do you realize that your secret sin (whatever it may be) is ultimately against God?
Potiphar’s wife was not going to give up. Genesis 39 10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. 11 But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. Did you notice that he did not try to reason with her or pray? He ran. There is a time to reason and then there is a time to run. There is a time to pray and then there is a time to pull out of there. Integrity recognizes the power of sin and distrusts the power of self.
1 Corinthians 6 18 “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” We focus so much on David’s failure, but we need to also talk about Joseph’s success. It’s wonderful to talk about God’s mercy, but we also need to talk about his favor.
As you know, she falsely accused him. Genesis 39 13 And so it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside, 14 that she called to the men of her house and spoke to them, saying, “See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew to mock us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And it happened, when he heard that I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me, and fled and went outside.” 16 So she kept his garment with her until his master came home. 17 Then she spoke to him with words like these, saying, “The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us came in to me to mock me; 18 so it happened, as I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me and fled outside.” 19 So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, “Your servant did to me after this manner,” that his anger was aroused. 20 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. This may be the point where some would say “forget integrity. When in Egypt, do like the Egyptians do.”
Joseph maintained his integrity. 21 But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. 23 The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper. As you know, through giving interpretations of dreams, he was able to get out of prison. He gave the interpretation of Pharaoh’s butler and baker’s dreams. Next, Pharaoh himself had a dream of the coming famine in the future. Joseph gave the interpretation. Genesis 41 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. 40You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!” So he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-Paaneah. And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On. So Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
There is the prize of Integrity. Integrity rejects immediate gratifications and waits for ultimate gains.
Are you saved? Today is the day to come to Christ and receive the Holy Spirit. He is much more than just your conscience. Conscience gets shaped by life and circumstances. The Holy Spirit remains pure because he is a person of the Godhead.
Hebrews 4 15 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 12 1 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”