May 22, 2019

Courage

By: Larry Shaffer

Courage!

Genesis 43 

Joseph, lesson 24 

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Victor Frankl 

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” Abraham Maslow 

“If we are to measure and monitor and improve anything, let it be our story, our character, and our conduct.” Brendon Burchard 

Judah has taken the lead among the brothers. He takes Benjamin and the others, as well as gifts and money, to go see the lord of Egypt, Joseph. They are completely unsure of the situation they are walking into. But Judah knows they must go. It is their only chance to survive. Jacob is mortified with fear that he might lose Benjamin but he has no choice but to let Judah take him. 

When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to his house steward, ‘Bring the men into the house and slay an animal and make ready; for the men are to dine with me at noon.’ Now the men were afraid, because they were brought to Joseph’s house, and they said, ‘It is because of the money that was returned in our sacks the first time that we are being brought in, that he may seek occasion against us and fall upon us, and take us for slaves with our donkeys.’ 

The brothers expected the worst. Guilt and fear dominated their hearts. I guess we can’t really blame them. They are in, what appears to be, a no-win situation. They address the steward and explain that they are innocent of stealing the money. Speaking to Joseph’s steward, they say, 

Oh my lord, we indeed came down the first time to buy food, and it came about when we came to the lodging place, that we opened our sacks, and behold, each man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full. We have brought it back in our hand. We have also brought down other money in our hand to buy food; we do not know who put our money in our sacks. 

He (the Steward) said, ‘Be at ease, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money.’ Then he brought Simeon out to them. Then the man brought the men into Joseph’s house and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys fodder. So they prepared the present for Joseph’s coming at noon; for they had heard that they were to eat a meal there. 

These are astonishing events! 

They feared the wrath of the lord (Joseph) but instead are being treated like welcomed guests. What is going on? They are receiving acts of kindness and warm hospitality. But what is especially odd is that the Egyptian steward speaks of the God of Israel as being sovereign and providential in the events of their lives. The steward says to them, 

Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks… 

The brothers failed all the tests that Joseph gave them on their first visit. This time, they are coming clean, being transparent and sincere. This time, they are passing the test and the steward confirms as such. 

The quotes at the top of this post are not necessarily biblical quotes. I like them, but they are not necessarily biblical-based. So I like to test quotes such as these with the Bible. There’s often something we can learn from wise people in this world, who may or may not be Christians. But our job is to test their premises with biblical truth. 

I believe the source of true moral excellence and courage is God and I believe God was certainly the source of strength for Victor Frankl as made sound choices and exhibited courage and moral excellence while in a Nazi prison camp. More on this next time as I will provide biblical references that help us internalize the three quotes above.  

Father, Your Spirit is available to us to empower us with courage and the strength to make sound choices. When we understand that You are Sovereign and You reign supreme over the affairs of this world, then we are encouraged to do the right thing. After all, You promise to bless us when we walk in Your ways. Encourage us and strengthen us to follow the precepts of Your Word, so that we may live! Live lives of honor to You! Amen!