“Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come close to me.’ When they had done so, he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God ….’” Genesis 45:4-8a (NIV)
Joseph is a great example in the Old Testament of God’s faith-building process and how He used Joseph to build up other people’s faith. Let’s examine his life and dig deep into the faith-building principles that God used in Joseph’s life to encourage and grow our own faith and build others’ faith as well. You may remember the story of Joseph and his many brothers. He was the youngest son, at the time, and the most beloved of his father, Jacob. Jacob made him that legendary coat of many colors, and he gave it to his favored son, Joseph. You can imagine how that made his brothers feel! To make matters worse, Joseph had a dream that he shared with his brothers that pictured them bowing down to him. In his youthful arrogance, he shared the dream with them without considering how it only added insult to injury. Later, they stole his coat and threw him into a well, leaving him to die. Feeling guilty, one of the brothers suggested that they should lift him out of the well and sell him as a slave. Joseph was sold as a slave and carted off to Egypt. At this point, you may think that would be the end of Joseph and his dream. But, this is where the story takes shape as God moves in an impossible situation and begins a faith-building process that will take Joseph from an immature faith to a mature faith that saves two nations and changes destinies!
The first stage of faith-building is what I call The Faith Forming Stage. It all started with a dream. Like Joseph, God wants to do something great and grand through your life! In Genesis 37:5a the Bible says, “Joseph had a dream ….” It always starts with a dream that God gives you that changes your destiny. But, before you communicate the dream, you need to let God clarify it in your heart. It could be just a selfish dream or ambition – and not God’s dream at all. At this stage, you must pray and seek God’s wisdom on the dream. Share it with spiritual mentors in your life and get their perspective. But, be careful who you share the dream with and how you share it. In his youthful pride and arrogance, Joseph taunted his brothers with his coat and his dream.
In the faith-forming stage, let God form faith in your heart to clarify the dream. Once He does, step out in faith! God is not asking you to do something great and grand for Him; He just wants you to take a small step of obedience in faith. There’s a common misconception that the men and women in the Bible whom God used in a great way had huge faith, that they were giants of faith. The truth is that they were common, ordinary, imperfect people just like you and me! They simply took little steps of faith, trusting God to do what only God could do.
Just as God was forming faith and dreams in Joseph’s life, He will do the same in your life for the dream He gives you. This is the first of three other stages. When Joseph’s brothers stole his coat and sold him as a slave, he didn’t understand it at first, any more than we do when bad things happen contrary to the dream we have. But God is at work! He is taking us through a faith-building process to accomplish a greater purpose! Don’t give up. He’s not done yet!