There was a rich casino owner once who tried to grease the palms of a state senator by giving him a brand new Cadillac. “I can’t take this car from you,” the senator protested. “Why that would be a bribe.” “Oh did I say ‘give’ you the car?” asked the rich man. “I meant sell it to you – for $20.” “That’s better,” said the senator. “In that case, I’ll take two.”

Our world desperately needs men and women of moral character today. Thankfully for those who wish to develop honorable character, the Bible provides some wonderful templates. One is found in the man Joseph whose story is told in Genesis 39-50 (the same Joseph who was given an amazing Technicolor dreamcoat.)

One lesson Joseph would teach about developing good character is this: we must store up goodness in our hearts. Joseph’s character training began when he was a child. When he was a boy, God gave to Joseph dreams of some the things that God would do in his life later on. But as Joseph shared those dreams with his older brothers, they didn’t fully appreciate his candor. Thinking he was just a brat, when they had the opportunity to get rid of him, they sold him into slavery. (And if you grew up with siblings, who didn’t wish they could have done that at some point?) Joseph ends up in the service of one of the most powerful men in Egypt, named Potiphar.

But then Joseph finds himself in a pickle.  The story tells us that Joseph was well-built and handsome. Potiphar’s wife takes notice of him and attempts to seduce him. Joseph though is able to resist her advances.

If you haven’t notice, temptation will often hit you without warning. You’re changing in the locker room, and your buddy says, ‘Hey look at this!’ and he whips out a picture he’s downloaded from the Internet. You sit down at lunch with the other office girls and all of a sudden, one of them starts badmouthing a co-worker, and there it is – you’re tempted to join in.

The time for developing good character is not at the moment you’re in temptation’s crosshairs. You need to begin developing moral excellence and firmness long before then. Like Joseph, whose childhood training now rose to the challenge. The moment he needed to draw on inner reserves of moral strength to help him, those reserves were in place.

Jesus said in Luke 6:45 – “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.” In other words, character is built over time through hundreds of small choices, and hundreds of small interactions, which seem inconsequential on their own. But each one adds a tiny fibrous strand of muscle to the moral core of your heart.

Good character is the result of the people you hang around with, it’s a result of the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the heroes you choose; whatever goes into your eyes and ears, whatever you spend a lot of time thinking about – those are the things that get stored up in your heart and shape the person you become.

If your inner reserves are depleted, you may want to start making some deposits, before it gets too late.