Both of my parents grew up in farm families where their mothers churned butter. After the cows were milked, a job my Mom often did, the milk would sit for a time so the lighter cream could rise to the top. When enough was collected, the butter would be made. From this process the phrase “cream of the crop” probably has its origin since the cream is considered the best part of the milk.
Joseph found himself in Egypt though not by his choice. However, time after time he rose to the top just as the cream in the milk does. Why? What was it about this young Hebrew that made him cream? Genesis 39 gives great insight. Potiphar, captain of the guard, bought Joseph from the traders. God was with Joseph and he prospered. Joseph could have let a bad attitude about his slavery and bitterness over his treatment by his brothers make him unproductive… but he didn’t. Instead he chose to live in the moment and give his best even as a slave and so in Joseph God found a heart and life he could work through.
Another mark of character other than his good attitude is seen in Joseph’s decision to honor his master, or employer. When his master’s wife made play after play for him, Joseph turned her down because he chose not to dishonor his master or betray the trust placed in him.
Lastly, the underlying decision that showed itself in his attitude and in how he reacted to Potiphar’s wife was Joseph’s commitment to honor God in every decision and action. To Potiphar’s wife he said-
“No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Genesis 39:9
Daniel ended up in the lion’s den for praying because the jealous officials who set him up could find nothing in his work performance to fault. I see similarities between Daniel and Joseph. Both were captives. Both gave their best regardless of their status and the fact that their masters were pagan. Both sought to honor God and for their decisions, Daniel was thrown in with the lions and Joseph was thrown in jail… but God wasn’t done with either of them. He lifted each man up in honor and placed them in high positions of leadership because their hearts were set on honoring Him.
Today I wonder… does my attitude at times close the door to God working through me like he wants to? Is my heart set on doing my best in EVERYTHING I do not just with the ‘God stuff’? Am I firm in my decision to honor God even if there are worldly consequences? There are many characters in the Bible I admire but outside of Jesus few I hold as highly as Joseph and Daniel. Why? A search can be made from the first chapter to the last and a bad word about either man will not be found. I know they were not perfect for they were after all human. However, both of these men so set their hearts on honoring God in all they did that their paths stayed straight no matter what. I want to live such a dedicated life to my Father! I want my attitude and decisions to honor God no matter what I might face! Strengthen me and guide me, Lord! Help me to stay so true to you! Amen!