“His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
– Genesis 50:18-20
Being intentional seems to be a lingering buzzword in Christian living today. We are encouraged to be intentional in our giving, our parenting, our relationships, and our ministry. We are to be intentional in our Bible reading, intentional as we pray, and intentional in the way we serve others. And we certainly should be intentional about our love for others and our love for God alone.
The problem is that intentions can be deceiving. Even well-intentioned people, with the most altruistic designs, will find ulterior or selfish motives in their words and actions if they look at themselves honestly. One of the most damaging obstacles to the acceptance of Christianity is the issue of hypocrisy among believers. We may intend to be a good witness, but our words, actions, and character are not aligned. In simpler terms, we do not practice what we preach.
Our scripture passage from Genesis 50, is the final act in a story of evil intent and favoritism. Joseph’s older brothers, years earlier, had sought to kill this young dreamer. Instead of outright murder, they opted for financial gain by selling him into slavery. Now, almost 40 years later, Joseph is a prince in Egypt, Jacob, their father, is dead, and the brothers are scared of what Joseph might do to them. They come crawling before Joseph begging for their lives.
Servitude, prison, and now leadership have given Joseph the time and maturity to see the purpose in all that he has lived through. He has come to understand that his brothers’ intent was to cause him harm. However, behind the hatred, deception, and opportunism, Joseph could now look from a heavenly perspective at the only one in the universe with pure intent in his circumstances: God.
God’s intent is always good. His motives for acting in your life are always good. God’s purpose, including His perfect will for every person that directly or indirectly intersects your life, is perfectly good.
Every veteran Christian turns immediately now to Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We love that verse!
The problem is that our list of “good things,” possibly including raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, does not look much like God’s list of what is good for our lives. In Joseph’s life, it involved suffering, rejection, confusion, and change. Does that look like your circumstances? Thankfully, every moment of suffering, pain, or heartache has God’s good intent behind it.
One family example of God’s gracious intent is the sweet life of my wife, Brenna’s, first-born son, David, born in 1984. David was missing a portion of a chromosome and had many resultant issues. He died just shy of his second birthday. David’s brief life and death appear at first glance to be tragic. However, because of the gift of this beautiful boy, Brenna’s father looked to Jesus and received God’s gift of salvation and eternal life. As Joseph said, God intended it all for good to accomplish the saving of a life!
What events will you face today that will appear to be motivated by evil intent, but will one day be revealed with God’s stamp of His goodness and love? Will you recognize them?
Pray: Heavenly Father, I admit that, too often, the good intents of my thoughts and actions, as well as the motives of others, are tainted with selfishness and a desire for personal gain. I need the perspective of Joseph. Help me, Lord, to see Your good intention in every event of my life today. Lead me to thank You in every circumstance, “good” or “bad” because You alone are good. Amen.
First Baptist Broken Arrow