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Posts Tagged “Dr Shane Johnson”

Joseph, the son of Jacob and Rachel, had a life defined by many things, but as I read through Genesis 37-40 this week, what struck me was the frequency and depth of betrayal that he experienced. Before his death, Joseph became an incredibly blessed man – he experienced reconciliation with his family, extreme professional success, and had great riches. But before any of those things occurred, he endured betrayal after betrayal after betrayal.

As I pondered this a bit, I was reminded that betrayal was a significant factor in Jesus’ life. It was as a result of betrayal that Jesus was arrested, accused and then sentenced to the cross. But it wasn’t just the betrayals of Judas, those at Jesus’ trial, and Pilate that sent Jesus to the cross. It goes way beyond that. The cross was only necessary because we had sinned and needed someone to save us from our sin. We had betrayed the Lord, and our betrayal sentenced Jesus to the cross. I had betrayed the Lord, and my betrayal sentenced Jesus to the cross.

Joseph is Betrayed…Again and Again
But I started out talking about Joseph’s experience with betrayal. Let’s return there. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. OK, while what they did wasn’t right at all, maybe you can understand it. After all, Joseph was the bratty little brother who tattled on them (Genesis 37:2), was spoiled by his father (37:3), and thought he was better than his brothers (37:5-11). So they sold him into slavery.

But Joseph’s other betrayals were fully unprovoked.

  • Potiphar’s wife accused him of raping her. He had not.
  • Potiphar sent him to prison without giving him a chance to speak the truth.
  • The Pharaoh’s cupbearer immediately forgot about Joseph once he was restored to his position of cupbearer.

And yet in each setback, God blessed Joseph. And, in fact, each betrayal led Joseph one step closer to the purpose God had for Joseph’s life. If his brothers had not betrayed him, Joseph would not have been in a position to be accused by Potiphar’s wife. If he had not been accused by Potiphar’s wife, Potiphar would hot have had the opportunity to have him thrown into prison. If Potiphar had not betrayed Joseph, the Cupbearer would not have had the opportunity to forget him until Pharaoh had his dream.

Betrayal – A Part of Life on This Earth
It seems to me that Joseph’s life is not too different from yours and mine. Betrayal is part of the package. It’s part of the package because we live in a sinful world and because we are sinners. All of us. Your best friend is a sinner. Your spouse is a sinner. Your children are sinners. The person you esteem most is a sinner. You are a sinner. I am a sinner. And sin is a betrayal. And if betrayal is in our very nature, we should not be surprised when we are betrayed. It’s part of the package.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting you develop or nurse a pessimistic attitude. “No good deed goes unpunished” is a common sentiment, and one that I hate. I cringe every time I hear it because it reveals a root of pessimism that I believe does not honor God. Because truth, God’s Word, says that good deeds will be rewarded. Yes, we might experience betrayal in this life and our good deed might yield negative consequences for a short time, but our focus isn’t on this world. In the world we ought to be living for (i.e., the Kingdom of heaven), good deeds are blessed.

So Let’s Live for the Kingdom of God
What I am suggesting is that we focus on truth instead of lies. And since betrayal is not truth, since it is perpetrated by the father of lies, perhaps it ought not be our focus. I know that’s not an easy thing to do when you’ve been betrayed. I’ve been betrayed. Badly. It sent me into a tailspin. I understand the emotional damage that betrayal can cause. I admire Joseph for his apparent ability to shake it off quickly and continue to be faithful to do his best in each place he was put. I can’t help but wonder if his earlier dreams of what God had for him sustained him as he was continually pushed down. Scripture doesn’t say that, so we don’t know.

One instruction that Scripture does give us is to think about those things that are true and noble and right, those things that are pure and lovely and admirable, those things that are excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Let’s recognize betrayal for what it is – at the very root of our nature and from the hand of the Enemy. Then let’s turn our focus away from it and toward the One who faced our betrayal by stretching out His arms in love.

A Step Further
In each situation, Joseph continued to be faithful to God. Dr. Shane Johnson’s definition of success is this: “Doing the right thing over an extended period of time.” Notice that the definition doesn’t include anything about income or fame. He leaves the issues of income and fame to God and instead teaches that success is an issue of character. Success for Joseph wasn’t becoming governor of Egypt. His success was in not letting each betrayal keep him from being faithful in whatever position God placed him.

Betrayal is most devastating when it is a violation of trust from the hand of someone whom you have allowed to become close to you. The betrayal from a stranger affects your circumstances but doesn’t pierce your heart. The betrayal of a friend, a family member, or an authority figure has the power to debilitate you unlike that of other betrayals. These betrayals will come into your life, though. Remember, we are all sinful; betrayal is part of our sinful nature. We all have the capability to betray one another. The Enemy wants to use these inevitable betrayals to cause you to build a wall around yourself so that you let no one, not even God Himself, get close enough to hurt you like that again. But Joseph didn’t let the repeated betrayals of these significant people in his life shake his trust in God. He continued to do the right thing over an extended period of time, and that was the secret of his success. 

Think Kingdom living and keep at it. That’s what we are called to.

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