“Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.” Psalm 105:19 (NLT)
If you want to move your faith beyond words to a life of action, Joseph is a great mentor! The book of Genesis records more pages on His life than that of any other Old Testament characters. From Genesis chapter 37 to chapter 50, you will read about Joseph. As you do, you will discover an amazing faith-building process that God uses to transform Joseph’s immature faith to a mature faith that changed destinies and made him a people builder!
The first stage was the The Faith Forming Stage. In this stage, God gave Joseph a dream of something big and grand that He wanted to do through him that would ultimately save many lives. However, in his youthful immaturity, Joseph misinterpreted the dream which led to the second stage in God’s faith-building process:
- The Character Building Stage
Joseph missed what all of us often miss when God gives us a dream. God is more concerned about who the dream makes you rather than where the dream takes you. We get an insight from the Psalmist about this stage in Psalm 105:19. It says,
“Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.”
How does God test our character? This is a stage you can’t skip over if God is ever to fulfill His purpose in your life. There’s nothing quite as pathetic as one whose character doesn’t match the great and grand assignment God has for him. This stage will take the most time. God used two common means to shape Joseph’s character for his assignment. You’ll probably recognize them right away in your own life.
The first is problems. Problems strip away my pride. When God gives you a dream of something great, it’s easy for pride to settle in – even when the dream is from God. Our own pride and selfishness can get mixed in with God’s dream for us, and this can become a stumbling block that God must deal with before He accomplishes the dream. I think the coat of many colors represented that for Joseph. It created all kinds of problems between Joseph and his brothers. In Genesis 37:19, 23, 24, his brothers said, “‘Here comes that dreamer!’ … So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe – the richly ornamented robe he was wearing – and they took him and threw him into a cistern.” God allowed them to steal his coat – but not his dream! You need to know the difference between the coat and the dream. God prepared Joseph by removing the pride in his life. Once the pride had been erased, Joseph was ready to accomplish God’s great and grand dream!
Another means God used was temptation. God didn’t tempt Joseph, but He allowed the evil one to tempt him. Why? Because temptation strips away everything except my integrity. In Genesis 39:11,12 we’re told,
“One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She (Potiphar’s wife) caught him (Joseph) by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.”
Here’s the second time Joseph loses a coat! But, had he stayed, he would have lost something of far greater value – his integrity! Never trade your integrity for a coat! Satan put a powerful temptation before Joseph. It would have been so easy for Joseph to give in to temptation. He was alone. No one would have known. It would have been consensual. He was a foreigner, estranged from his family who were miles away! How did Joseph maintain his integrity? He ran! He was honest and humble enough to know that, had he stayed, he would have dishonored God and lost his integrity. Nothing is worth losing your integrity! Be humble enough to run when your integrity is at stake! This is the character-building stage. What problems and temptations are you facing? Know that God is using them to develop your faith so that He can fulfill a great and grand purpose in your life! He is more concerned with your character than your comfort. As God develops our character, He can then make us a blessing to others. There are still two more stages left.