As the story unfolds, did Potiphar’s wife leave Joseph alone? No. Some mosquitoes when you shoo them away go and look for weaker prey. But some mosquitoes just circle back for another go at you. Satan came at Jesus three times in the wilderness before he fled. And a few days later, this happened to Joseph.
Joseph comes into the house and finds that every other servant is gone, and it’s just he and Potiphar’s wife. (Think to yourself, “Oh-oh”.) Trouble always lurks when we’re alone. When no one’s watching, strange thoughts can besiege us. You’re alone in the hotel room on the business trip; it’s just you and the remote. You’re on vacation, a thousand miles from home. Just one more drink won’t hurt. Time to let your hair down a bit.
D.L. Moody said the “Integrity is what a man is in the dark.” He may has easily have added, Integrity is what a man is when he is alone.
Potiphar’s wife takes ahold of Joseph’s garment and said, “Come to bed with me!” What was Joseph to do? The only thing he could do. If Joseph had hung around a minute longer, it may have been too late for him to resist. But in that moment, God gave Joseph an escape hatch – a literal open door. And Joseph took it. He ran. And he escaped sin. He preserved his character. This is a fourth step to take in our own pursuit of character – look for God’s way of escape.
The Bible gives us this promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” What a promise! And if I’m honest and look at my life, I can see that this promise is indeed true. I can recall countless times when in the midst of contemplating sin, suddenly out of nowhere an escape hatch appeared. Out of nowhere, a worship song parachutes into my mind. Someone calls or comes to the door. Something odd but applicable gets said on the TV or radio. Once an actual power outage derailed the wicked bent of my mind, and set me on a better train of thought.
Does Paul say that God will force you to take the way of escape? No – for remember, God is after sons and daughters, not robots. God’s job is to provide the way out. Your job is to go through. And if you’re smart like Joseph, you’ll run for your life. 2 Timothy 2:22 – “Flee the evil desires of youth.” And sometimes, that’s what you must do. Better to stay pure, no matter what happens. Better to run from sin, no matter how silly you look. What’d Joseph leave behind when he ran? His cloak. He either ran out buck naked or in his underwear! But looking silly is not what mattered most at that moment.
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