What an interesting presidential candidate Joseph would make today. He has a sorted background; rejected by his family, convicted of sexual harassment and imprisoned as a felon. And as an official? He requires starving people to sell all they own in exchange for food. Wouldn’t our news networks have a field day that!
But here’s the deal.
First of all, today’s culture values perfection – or at least the perception of it – far more than wisdom gained through trial. Even the appearance of scandal raises red flags and becomes a Twitter event. If Joseph ran for office today, we’d expect to be inundated with soundbites and commercials about Potaphar’s wife (his accuser)…how mentally unhinged she is. We would never expect to hear about God’s providence or Joseph’s humble acceptance of false accusation. Such remarks would disqualifying him as a strong leader. Wouldn’t it be great if we valued transparency and humanity as evidence of strength? And the endurance and overcoming of trials as evidence of wisdom? Instead, we promote “fake” and we’ve ended up skeptical of everything and everyone.
Secondly, today’s culture values unconditional handouts far more than the self-esteem that comes from genuine accomplishment. However well-meant, leading people to depend on “getting something for nothing” reduces them to captives – controlled by the will of others. Human beings need to contribute. It’s how we’re built. It’s what makes us feel like we matter to someone…to the world. Joseph understands this when he requires the people of Egypt to provide something – anything – in exchange for food. He doesn’t need their sickly cattle or barren lands. Based on his character and previous actions, I believe that he requires this because he is preserving their dignity. Counter-intuitive? Perhaps. But God tells us that our souls – not just our wallets – are fueled by contributing: The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich (Proverbs 13:4)
So…if anyone has a “Joseph for President” yard sign. I’m interested.