Gifts, Humility, Forgiveness, and Heroism

Last week I prepared a sermon about Joseph (OT) and I have always been intrigued about this man. Was he perfect? No he wasn’t. However, most of the characters in the Old Testament had some flaw. With certainty though, Joseph was GIFTED, God had given him something, but he didn’t exactly know how to use the gifting at first.

God spoke to Joseph through his dreams, and probably understanding full and well what it meant, sought to blab it to his brothers. This dream essentially rubbed it in his brothers face that they would bow down to him, and he would rule over them. He was the arrogant kid that essentially rubbed in the face of his brothers that he knew he was better than them. His brothers were already upset with him because they saw him as a tattle tale, and as daddy’s favorite, which was thrown into their face every time they looked at his coat. So they looked at their arrogant brother and sought to break him, so they eventually sold him, and removed him from their sight. Joseph’s arrogance had betrayed him, and he lost all that he had which fed his pride.

Humbled, Joseph went around and was a good servant. He did all that he could to be successful, giving his work into the hands of God, and God blessed him. Not that this went straight to his head, but the success caused Joseph to let his guard down, and he fell into the trap set by his master’s wife. Feelings of invincibility probably caused him to enter into a circumstance that ultimately got him thrown into prison. Lesser arrogance than what he threw into the face of his brothers, but still a lack of humility.

God stayed with him, and continued to offer him gifts and blessings, even in the outward appearance of no gifts, no reason for pride, as he was locked up. God had a plan for his life, one that he probably had no clue, and his thoughts were far from those dreams that he had told his brothers, another life ago.

So Joseph used the gift God had given him even while in prison. This time he interpreted two men’s dreams, but this time the reward was not instant, for as soon as the man that benefitted from Joseph’s interpretation, did not help Joseph. This caused a deep humility to dwell within Joseph, so much so that he would remember that God is the source, and Joseph is merely the vessel.

Thus the time came when Pharaoh needed some dreams interpreted. Here Joseph supplied the information that allowed Egypt to be saved from the effects of a Great Famine. For this act Joseph, was rewarded with great power and prestige. At this point his brothers enter the scene again because the famine reached Canaan and his family. They came looking for assistance from Egypt. Instead of treating them with the wrath they probably deserved, Joseph helps them out, and actually saves his whole family, because through the power of the Holy Spirit, Joseph offers forgiveness and salvation to those who started his downward spiral.

He even wanted to offer them the assurance that they were forgiven because he knew that God blessed him throughout the midst of his humbling, by telling them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” His brothers needed to be humbled, but Joseph did this through the love of God, not the wrath.

Even Greater Gifts

Now that the holiday season is past and the gift giving has ended for a while, I looked back at one of my deepest joys was getting the opportunity to look at the face of my son as he opened his birthday gifts earlier in the season, and Christmas gifts. For his birthday I decided to give him a skateboard (with a helmet and pads), and I was filled with so much glee that he wanted to go out and immediately put on the pads and go ride his skateboard. That feeling was only to be topped by “Christmas” morning, and he woke me up to tell me, “I got a kitchen daddy, I got a kitchen!”, when the night before I was up until 2 AM putting it together, but his excitement made the sleep deprivation worth it.

Although I am not always the most astute person when it comes to getting people gifts, I knew what it was that would bring him a great deal of joy. Certainly, the excitement of getting gifts is enough to bring joy, no matter what the gift might be, but there is a certain gleam in his eye when he gets some particular gifts. I was overjoyed that the gifts I picked out for him were those special gifts. Even when “Santa” gets the credit for bringing the gifts.

However, no matter how good I was at picking out gifts, God is better at getting us just what we need at the right time. At the same time, God is pleased to give us what we need, and sometimes we also get those wants. We are blessed, we are bestowed with gifts, and God expresses love to us in diverse ways. God wants a relationship with us no matter what, and has gone to the cross to show us the extent of that love.

Jesus teaches us about God’s gift giving in Luke’s Gospel,

“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks fore a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:9-13)

One of those great gifts God blessed me with after Christmas was snow. On Sunday after church the snow started coming down, and it kept going until the next morning. I was just in awe of the beauty with which God has blessed us. Although I never would have thought to ask God for snow, I hope that the worship filled response I had toward the snow, allowed God the same joy I had when I saw the excitement in my son’s face.