What Does it Take to Be a Godly Man? Part 1 of 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Joseph is my example of a godly man.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A GODLY MAN?
I want to speak about godly men today, because we live in an age when it is difficult to identify what a godly man should be like. So much of what we are told by the media, about “good” men, doesn’t line up with the Word of God. So, today, let’s go to the Bible, and using Joseph as our example, see if we can find out what it takes to be “a godly man.”
Joseph is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. He was born with natural abilities that we admire. He was smart, good-looking, educated and well-mannered; and he began life with a great future ahead of him, but his world began to unravel. His life, which at one time was so very promising, changed suddenly, and became plagued with danger; and there were harsh conditions that stir up our sympathy. However, despite the circumstances of his life, he displayed godly qualities that demand our imitation. He was certainly a man who had great faith in God, and he lived like a godly man, despite the many difficulties he encountered.
His story begins in the land of Canaan. Joseph was his father’s favorite son. And his father showed his favoritism in many ways. He let Joseph stay at home and run things while his brothers worked like farm hands. He gave him a beautiful multi-colored coat that set him apart from his brothers. In some ways, old Jacob was responsible for Joseph’s brothers becoming jealous of his privileges and for their plan to kill him. But instead of killing him, they decided to make a profit and they sold him to some Ishmaelite merchants and he soon became a slave in Egypt. His story continues in a mixture of sorrow and happiness and concludes with a great reunion with his family.
I want to read some of his story from Genesis 45:1-15. At this time in his life, he is second in command in Egypt. Only Pharaoh, himself has more power. Joseph is at home in Egypt, and his eleven brothers have been brought to him. He knows who they are, but they haven’t recognized him, as of yet. Remember, his brothers had plotted to kill him, and wound up selling him into slavery. Now, let’s see what happens, when Joseph confronts his brothers.
1 Joseph could no longer control himself in the presence of all his attendants, so he cried out, “Have everyone withdraw from me!” Thus no one else was about when he made himself known to his brothers.
2 But his sobs were so loud that the Egyptians heard him, and so the news reached Pharaoh’s palace.
3 “I am Joseph,” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still in good health?” But his brothers could give him no answer, so dumbfounded were they at him.
4 “Come closer to me,” he told his brothers. When they had done so, he said: “I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt.
5 But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.
6 For two years now the famine has been in the land, and for five more years tillage will yield no harvest.
7 God, therefore, sent me on ahead of you to ensure for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives in an extraordinary deliverance.
Let me stop for a moment, because we need to understand that there was a worldwide famine at this time. Only Egypt was blessed by God with bountiful harvests. The nations were forced to come to Egypt for food, and they paid a high price for it. Old Jacob had sent his sons to Egypt to buy food for their families, because Canaan was hit hard by the famine, and they were all going to starve, unless they could get what they needed in Egypt.
In verse eight, we read: “So it was not really you but God who had me come here; and he has made of me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household, and ruler over the whole land of Egypt.” Now, this is very important. Joseph’s faith can be seen, as he tells his brothers that God used their evil act for His purpose. This is how He brought him to Egypt. Then God continued to guide his life as he went from a servant in the house of Potiphar, to a long stay in prison; until finally, he becomes a ruler in Egypt. In that high position of authority, he was able to help his family. All seventy souls, who made up his Fathers family, would go into Egypt. They would come out some four hundred years later, a great nation of close to three million.
Let’s begin again with verse nine.
9 “Hurry back, then, to my father and tell him: ‘Thus says your son Joseph: God has made me lord of all Egypt; come to me without delay.
10 You will settle in the region of Goshen, where you will be near me—you and your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and everything that you own.
11 Since five years of famine still lie ahead, I will provide for you there, so that you and your family and all that are yours may not suffer want.’
12 Surely, you can see for yourselves, and Benjamin can see for himself, that it is I, Joseph, who am speaking to you.
13 Tell my father all about my high position in Egypt and what you have seen. But hurry and bring my father down here.”
14 Thereupon he flung himself on the neck of his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin wept in his arms.
15 Joseph then kissed all his brothers, crying over each of them; and only then were his brothers able to talk with him.
Joseph is my example of a godly man. There are three things about Joseph’s life which I believe should be present in the life of every godly man. They are:
1. A godly man forgives those who have done him wrong.
2. A godly man withstands adversity.
3. A godly man resists temptation.
Let’s begin by seeing how he dealt with the injustice. Joseph suffered numerous injustices.
FIRST, his brothers mistreated him. They put him in a large pit and threatened to leave him to die. Later they sold him to some slave traders, and these traders, in turn, sold him to Potiphar, an official in the Egyptian government.
SECOND, Joseph was treated unfairly by Potiphar’s wife. She lied and accused him of molesting her. That led to him being thrown into prison, with little hope of ever getting out.
THIRD, while Joseph was in prison he did a favor for Pharaoh’s baker. The baker promised to bail Joseph out of prison, but later forgot him.
Joseph’s story contains one injustice after another, but what we need to understand is this: Joseph suffered many injustices, but he forgave each injustice. Even when Joseph rose to a position of power in the land of Egypt, he did not seek vengeance. Instead, he forgave those who had treated him unfairly. The mercy he showed to his brothers is a prime example of how we should forgive others.
We read that, “Joseph then kissed all his brothers, crying over each of them; and only then were his brothers able to talk with him” (Gen. 45:15). The best way to deal with injustice is to do as Joseph; overcome evil with good. We must resist the impulse to retaliate, but instead, we should do good to those who do evil to us.
Our life is on exhibit before a watching world, so we need to have a life that has been transformed through faith in Christ. Jesus never promised us a life without hardships. Actually, he said that there would be persecution and troubles for the child of God. What he did promise was that he would give us grace to get through the hardships and troubles. He said, “My grace is sufficient.”
NOW, OUR SECOND POINT IS THIS, A GODLY MAN WILL NOT ONLY FORGIVE INJUSTICE, HE WILL ALSO WITHSTAND ADVERSITY.
We saw that Joseph suffered injustice, but he also knew adversity. Joseph’s story is filled with physical and mental hardship. Joseph knew the sting of disappointment. As a young man who was filled with dreams of the future, his ambitions were stifled when he was sold as a slave. He loved his brothers, but they acknowledged to his face that they hated him and wanted to kill him. Potiphar’s wife became so outraged by his rejection of her advances that she lied to her husband to get her revenge. Joseph had made a friend of the king’s baker, while he was in prison, and the baker promised to help him, when he got out. But when he was released from prison, he refused to keep the promise he made to Joseph. Joseph could have easily grown bitter and resentful after living as a prisoner and slave. This man knew the meaning of hardship. Remember, believers are not exempt from hard times. The apostle Paul was another person, who could talk about hard times. And he wrote about all he suffered in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27; it’s a long list, and if we had more time it would be good to look at what he went through for Jesus.
In the Bible, there are many accounts of godly men who faced harsh conditions. We must learn to withstand hardships without allowing our spirits to turn sour. But here is what I believe is the secret to Joseph’s victorious life-he saw adversity as part of God’s plan. Joseph was seventeen years old when he was brought into Egypt. And now as he stands before his brothers and makes this great statement, he is thirty-nine years old, and he has been living in the land of Egypt for twenty-two years. He sees God’s hand in all that’s happened to him.
We need to evaluate our hardships from a biblical point of view, realizing that God’s plan is bigger than ours. We need to remember that sometimes God is the one who brings the hardships for own good. Even when God doesn’t bring the troubles, he may not remove them. Instead, he may leave them. For example: He didn’t remove Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”, but he did give him the grace to live with it. Listen to what Paul says in Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Paul acknowledged that his “thorn in the flesh” was given to keep him humble, because he was in danger of being exalted above measure due to the revelations from God that he received.