Genesis 39:1-7 “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.”
Because of envy, Joseph’s brothers stripped him of his garments and cast him into a pit with plans of killing him at a later time. Discovering that it would be more profitable to sell him than to kill him, he was purchased by a band of Ishmeelites who brought him down to Egypt where he was bought by “Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian.”
It’s at this point that things begin to change for Joseph; with the exception of his freedom, he becomes a very prosperous man. Joseph had not been purchased by just anyone; Potiphar was one of the most powerful men in Egypt. He was captain of Pharaoh’s guard, a man of wealth and influence. In this house of influence, power, and prominence; Joseph was elevated to a position of prosperity; “and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.” In fact the Word of God said, “he was a prosperous man.” Joseph was elevated to a delightful place, but a dangerous position! One writer said, “Many who bear the test of affliction fall to the privilege of prosperity.
Joseph must not fall prey to the prosperity of possessions; “And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand.” Unlike the farmer in Luke 12 Joseph got a grip on the possessions, however possessions got a grip on the farmer; “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (vs.19). Possessions can become an unproven haven of security. Previous to delivering this parable, Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (vs.15).
Joseph must not fall prey to the prosperity of position, “he made him overseer over his house.” It would have been easy for Joseph to assume that because of his lofty position that he was not answerable to God or man! When tempted by Potiphar’s wife, Joseph recognized his responsibility to his secular master, “Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand”, and he recognized his responsibility to his spiritual Master, “how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” The Word of God tells us that “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
If Joseph had failed to handle prosperity in the house of Potiphar’s, it is for certain that he would have failed in the house of Pharaoh. Joseph was given more because he controlled the prosperity rather than the prosperity controlling him! In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of a man that takes a journey into a far country. Before leaving he calls three servants and commits to them portions of his wealth to manage in his absence. In wisdom, the man did not commit to every servant the same amount, but “to every man according to his several ability” (Matthew 25:15). As stewards of His affairs, can you withstand the perils of prosperity?