Character or Compromise?-Delight!

But is an interesting word. Usually it denotes something that isn't necessarily good, often it preceeds an excuse. In this case however the feeling is very different.

Genesis 39:21

English Standard Version (ESV)

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.

 

Here it is but is almost calming. It is reassuring the reader that God has not forgotten Joseph. It is in fact the opposite. God in fact grants favor to our hero. This phrase also acknowledges that what has happened to Joseph is not anything that the author would consider good, and neither would any reader in their right mind. Despite all that has befallen Joseph so far the Lord grants him favor. Why? Character. Character is clearly something that is valued by God. How many times in Scripture do we read about God giving grace to the humble? Or how many times do we read that God upholds those who are righteous? Or how many times are we taught to seek after what is holy and fix our eyes and lives on who Christ is? The answer to all those questions are, many, many times. The Bible is a manual to teach us how to live a life of Godly character. The question I pose now is does having character bring about reward? It depends I think on how you look at it. What is reward? To most people it is getting what they want. It is recieving monetary compensation for putting yourself aside for the good of something or someone else. It is waiting your turn knowing that when your time does come that you will be repaid more than what you originally thought. Jesus speaks of this type of behavior;

Matthew 5:12

English Standard Version (ESV)

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

 

If we keep our eyes on this reward we will surely recieve it. I think that our eyes shift sometimes. People are expecting that if try to live good lives we are going to be rewarded for doing so. I think there is so much more to it than that. Being someone of Godly character isn't just doing good things as we have seen in the life of Joseph so far. It is being that person regardless of consquences, all the time. It is being so near the character of God that people have a hard time telling the difference. It sounds hard, and it sounds crazy but it can happen. I think if you live like this, the reward you seek will be different than the rewards I just described. I remember years ago I was sitting down to have my morning devotions. My dad being a pastor instilled in me the value of spending time in the word at a very young age. I sat down and started to read and came across this verse;

Psalm 37:4

English Standard Version (ESV)

4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 

This verse delighted me, but for different reasons. I didn't jump up off me bed right away, but in my adolescent mind I thought and pondered what I thought this really meant. I thought ot myself, Josh what is the desire of your heart? I quickly and almost without hesitation said, it is to be rich and to have millions of dollars (so that I could use most of it for the Lord). What a noble desire I thought that I had. So I marched right into my father's office and informed him that we would soon be millionares. He asked me why of course so I told him. I remember thinking that it was strange that my dad was not yet a millionare, or that maybe he had just never happened to come across this verse in all of his studies. Either way I had the dynamite interpretation of this passage and it was going to pay off in big ways for me. The last part of the verse, at least to a young boy is very deceptive. I read "the desires of my heart" and immediately flew into all the things I wanted. I put together that all of those things could be purchased with money, so there you have it. How simple it all was. It is so obvious that I was missing the whole picture! I recently read this verse again and saw what I missed. Delight myself in the Lord. My dad and I talked about this in depth recently and we came to a new conclusion. If you do what the first thing says the second will happen. It is a promise that God made, so it has to be true. But what if the desire of my heart was still money? Let's put it this way, if you are delighting yourself in the Lord, I mean truly delighting yourself in him, finding your purpose and fulfillment and complete satisfaction in the Lord and him alone, he will give you the desires of your heart, but those desires won't be what they were. They will be something totally new and different, and good. Delighting in God will give your heart the desire to want more of him, to be more like him. To have more of his character as your own. That is what God is promising to give you. The desires of your heart will be the desires of God's heart. Just like the desires of Joseph's heart were the desires of God's heart. That is why God blessed him and found favor in him. We can recieve the same thing from God if we delight in him. That is not something that is commonly said. Christians in today's world have a hard time, sometimes, taking hold of things promised to us in Scripture. This is a clear promise from God, and it is shown by example to us in the life of Joseph. Most of us have never had to spurn a married womans advances, or have had to tell our siblings the dreams we have had of them bowing down to us, or have been thrown into prison for a crime we clearly didn't commit. Through these events Joseph's integrity and character remained more than in tact, they grew. God promises the same to us. We can grow in character if, when these events come into our lives, we don't compromise. Character and compromise have nothing to do with each other. They are not friends they are enemies. Joseph never compromised even when facing prison. As men, despite any trial that comes in our lives, let's not compromise. Let's hold our integrity and character as a paramount treasure in our lives. Fight for our character. Don't give an inch of our character away. Live without compromise.