Integrity means staying on course, even when it’s hard.
“How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? …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)
Soon after you gain clarity about your dream, you will see more clearly the addictions, temptations, and other distractions that threaten to sabotage your efforts. We call these “distractions” because they take you off the track of your true path. This is your chance to break old habits and build new ones that support your goals. Read about Joseph’s response to an attempted seduction as well as his experience in prison in Genesis 39 and 40.
Joseph has been raised from the pit and has come to Egypt. Although still a slave, Joseph is now gaining respect and working under an Egyptian ruler named Potiphar. But the injustice he faced at home seems to have followed him all the way to this strange land: when he refuses to sleep with Potiphar’s wife, he is falsely accused and thrown into prison. However, while in prison, he continues to use his talents, interpreting the dreams of two prisoners. The dreams foretell one man’s death and the other’s liberation.
Just when things seem to be getting better, Potiphar’s wife enters the scene. Potiphar’s wife is the part of us that takes everything literally and doesn’t want to look below the surface. She says that if something looks, tastes or feels good, then it is good, regardless of how it may affect our spirit.
At one time, we may have listened to her. But now with Joseph beginning to rule, her seductions don’t get traction. When we don’t give in to her demands, she tries another trick. She accuses us of being a fraud and a hypocrite. She reminds us of our old behaviors until we feel imprisoned in anxiety, doubt, and even despair. Although it feels like prison, we now have an opportunity to look at the beliefs and choices that got us here in the first place. Here, in this “prison,” we can let God show us what parts of us can live and what needs to die. Just as God was always with Joseph, God is most intimately connected with us during these temptations.
During our spiritual tests, we are apparently left completely alone, although in fact we are not alone – at those times God is most intimately present at our deepest level giving us support. Because of that inner presence, when any of us has success in a spiritual test we form a partnership with God at the deepest level. (True Christian Religion 126)
This week, drop the distractions. Commit to letting go of something that has become addictive, or has prevented you from being the kind of person you want to be.
When in the throes of temptation, remember Joseph’s words to Potiphar’s wife: “How could I do such a thing and sin against God?”
Listen to part 2 of The Path of Integrity, “Drop the Distractions”:
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Here are the readings from “Listen to Your Dream”:
39:1 Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. 6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.
Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.”
8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”
10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.
11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.”
But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.
13 And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.”
16 Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, 17 and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me. 18 But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.”
19 As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. 20 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23 The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.
40:1 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. 2 And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody.
5 And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation.
6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?”
8 They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.”
And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”
9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10 and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”
12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. 15 For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.”
16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17 and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18 And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. 19 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”
20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.
Divine Providence 113
We cannot sense the compulsions that underlie our own evils. We are aware of their pleasures, but we give them little conscious thought because the pleasures seduce our thinking and distract our reflections. As a result, unless we discover from some other source that they are evil, we call them good and commit them freely, in accord with the reasoning of our thoughts. When we do this, we incorporate them into ourselves. To the extent that we rationalize them as permissible, we enlarge the court of our ruling love, our life’s love.