God never intended for the Christian life to be boring, but interesting and fulfilling. He encourages all Christians to serve others with their lives, believers and unbelievers alike. Joseph modeled this Godly quality in his daily life in spite of distressful circumstances. The account of Joseph’s life is recorded in Genesis chapters 37-50. However, I would like to draw your attention to chapter 40, verses 4 & 6, where Joseph has already endured a life time of hardships. He has twice been sold, first by his own brothers, and then by the Midianites who sold him to Potiphar. While serving in Potiphar’s home he was falsely accused and imprisoned for allegedly raping Potiphar’s wife.
Let us place ourselves in Joseph’s situation for a moment, and try to imagine what emotions we might experience: how about anger, bitterness, rejection, confusion, and depression to name a few. It’s plain to see that he has valid reasons to be angry, and could have allowed himself to become consumed with negativity. After all, this young man has suddenly been forced to sever all communication with every living person he has ever known. He obviously has a tremendous amount of grief to deal with at such a young age. Nevertheless, he finds within himself the desire to serve others, which is a quality I find quite admirable.
As recorded in Genesis chapter 40, the King of Egypt has imprisoned his cup-bearer and butler in the same prison as Joseph. What some may attribute to coincidence, I attribute to the divine will of God. Since Joseph was serving God, every detail of his life had meaning. I believe God took advantage of his prison experience to teach him a valuable lesson in serving others. God was preparing him for leadership; however, before an individual can become a great leader, they must first learn to be a servant! In verse 4 we learn that he waited on these men, or we might say he served them. That’s right, while in prison, he was serving others! Many times God will use adverse circumstances in our lives to refine us so that we may grow spiritually. While in prison it’s quite possible that a portion of Joseph’s responsibilities included preparing hot meals and washing and supplying clean clothing and linen for the men.
Perhaps he went the extra mile by writing a letter for someone, or simply praying with them and listening to their problems. I’m certain that much of his work was not pleasurable, and may have gone unnoticed or possibly unappreciated, yet he did his best to care for these men. It’s apparent that he felt great compassion for them not only physically, but emotionally as well, for in verse 6 it states that he noticed that they were sad. Zig Ziggler once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s clear to me that Joseph made these men feel special and I’m convinced that they viewed him as a friend who was genuinely concerned with their well-being.
God used these seemingly small acts of service in Joseph’s life to prepare him for His ultimate plan. Whether in Joseph’s life or our own life, God will often use small things to prepare us for greatness. Therefore, it is beneficial for us to consider every circumstance in life as God’s method of preparing us for His perfect plan. If Joseph could use his time in prison to serve others then surely we have the same opportunities available to us no matter what our station in life may be. However, we are not to assume that every act of service will be pleasant. While it’s almost effortless to serve those who appreciate us, serving the inkind may prove to be a challenge. Human nature tends to lead us away from uncomfortable situations. Therefore, we may feel less inclined to serve unkind people. Nevertheless, in serving God we are instructed to love others.
Galatians 5:13b declares, through love serve one another. God does not command us to like others, yet we are instructed to love them. This type of love requires a choice on our behalf. Once we choose to love others in this way, we are granted the liberty to serve them as God intended. Our Lord understands how difficult this may be; therefore He empowers us to accomplish the task at hand. Our willingness to obey God in this respect allows Him the opportunity to build character in the lives of His children. I believe the Lord executes His plan with many objectives in mind, which provides Him with the advantage of building character into our lives through service. Additionally, God uses our life as a beacon of light to the lost world around us. I would encourage each of us to utilize every opportunity to serve those God brings into our life, that we may become joint partners with Christ in leading others into the kingdom. After all, Christ has given each of us a commission to reach the lost.
Perhaps this acrostic of the word serve may be applied as our plan of action in serving others:
S – Seek God in prayer for opportunities to serve.
E – Employ our talents in serving.
R – Reveal a spirit of love in serving.
V – View service as God’s method of spiritual growth.
E – Evangelize through service.
As a result of our obedience in service we can confidently await Christ’s words of affirmation found in Matthew 25:21, “Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness!”