When God isn’t being Practical

When God isn't being Practical

Genesis 39:9 — Joseph said, “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

What would you have done? Joseph thought his life was about to come to a gruesome end in the bottom of a cistern when his brothers had a slight change of heart, yanked him out, and instead sold him as a slave. Now Joseph was in Egypt in service to one of the highest officials under Pharoah. His skin was a different color. He spoke an Egyptian dialect that had the distinct brokenness and accent of someone learning a second language.

The wife of your owner has taken a liking to you. “Come to bed with me,” she says. What would you have done? Maybe your mind would have run to how to protect your own skin. What’s the practical way of getting out of this without making this powerful woman angry? Maybe there would have been an attraction and you would think how you could get away with this without being caught. Or maybe your mind would have seen the political advantage. If I keep her happy with me, I am guaranteed a certain level of safety and power in this home. I can trade my body for other practical advantages.

Joseph’s answer wasn’t practical in any of these ways. His answer was obedient to the Lord. What a heart! Honoring and obeying God was more important than using this as a practical opportunity to get sex, power, or safety. Oh yes, Joseph would suffer in an earthly way for this obedience. He would get thrown in jail. But what good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul?

I see too many Christians (myself included) try to address moral dilemmas simply using human reason rather than God’s Word. I see too many Christians (myself included) try to live their lives with the underlying question, “What’s the practical benefit for me?” rather than “What shows love and obedience to my God?”

I see it when unmarried couples choose to live together because its economically practical. I hear it when a spouse wants to retaliate rather than forgive — forgiving someone freely is sacrificial not practical. I even found it recently among some kids who decided to sneak candy into the movie theater — after all the candy there is soooo expensive. Deceiving and essentially stealing is clearly the more practical option.

I bet you don’t have to look far in your own heart to find a desire for practical living rather than godly living.

There was nothing practical about Jesus’ cross either. Why would Jesus’ choose to suffer in that way? Why wouldn’t he have called on his angels to stop it or used his power to show his glory? Why would he show love and earn forgiveness for ungodly sinners?

Jesus carried his cross to love and serve you. Our obedience, and yes sometimes our suffering for doing good, is our way to love and serve him.

Yet, nothing can ever separate you from the love of God in Christ. We are more than conquerors through Jesus. The kingdom of heaven is ours. Why would we ever trade that for earthly money, sex, power, leisure? Clinging in faith to Christ actually seems like the most practical thing ever!

Peace in Jesus,
Pastor John Gensmer


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