At the end of our last lesson we joined Jacob and all of his family as they set out for Egypt to be reunited with Joseph. We can only imagine the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that accompanied them.
All the persons belonging to Jacob, who came to Egypt, his direct descendants, not including the wives of Jacob’s sons, were sixty-six persons in all and the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two; all the persons of the house of Jacob who came to Egypt were seventy. Gen. 46:26-27
It would have taken several days. Can you imagine the conversations, the thoughts, the emotions during that journey?
Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father; as soon as he appeared before him, he fell on his neck and wept on his neck a long time. Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now let me die since I have seen your face that you are still alive.’ 46:29-30
I suppose only those who have experienced a prolonged separation from those whom they love can begin to really appreciate the impact of this reunion on Joseph, on Jacob and on the entire family.
With Pharaoh’s blessing, Joseph settles his family in the best part of Egypt, an area called Goshen where there was pasture for the animals. Pharaoh even committed the care of his own flocks to the brothers of Joseph for the famine in Egypt was still severe. Only in Goshen was there a remnant of pasture land. Joseph provided food for his father and his entire family.
During this time of famine, Joseph had enormous power. The life the people once enjoyed became a desperate struggle for survival. Personal reserves were gone. Everyone needed help. In that setting Joseph had every opportunity to take advantage of the situation, had he been a lesser man. He could have increased prices, asked for and accepted bribes and focused only on his family. He didn’t. He handled the situation with integrity. In response to Joseph the people do not rebel or grumble. Instead they praise him, respect him and trust him. His integrity affected not just his family but the entire nation.
Those who act with integrity make an impact on the world around them.
It is one thing to observe integrity in someone else and another to possess it ourselves. How is a lack of integrity recognized?
Do we try to pass a child off as younger than they really are in order to save a couple dollars at a museum or movie theater? Do we tell our children to inform callers that we are not at home even though we are? Do we under-report our income to deliberately cheat on taxes? Are we friendly to a neighbor to their face but gossip about them behind their back?
Each of these is an example of a lack of integrity. Little things, you protest? It’s in the little things that we show what we really are!
Integrity is a big deal! So how do we cultivate it? A couple of thoughts…
***Make a commitment to read at least two chapters in God’s Word every day. The Word of God is the guide for honest and holy living. Spending time EVERY day – even the few minutes it takes to read two chapters – will make a difference in your value system, your outlook and your behavior. Consistently reading the Word of God impacts the way you think and how you think is how you will act.
***Recognize that integrity is best measured by what you do when no one is looking. Examine yourself. Is your behavior different at work when the boss isn’t around? Or are you the same employee regardless? What do you watch on television when you know that everyone else in the house is asleep? What about the internet? Do you quickly click the minimize button when your spouse or your child walks in the room? Doesn’t that tell you something?
Integrity means being the same person when you’re alone as when you’re in the company of others. A person who values integrity wants to weed out any behavior that can turn into the cancer of hypocrisy.
Being an person of integrity doesn’t mean that you are perfect, but that you strive consistently to live out what you profess you believe.
A person with integrity will stand when others fall. They will be remembered when others are forgotten….like Joseph.
In a world where integrity has largely fallen into the dustbin of history, choose to be different: honest, upright, straightforward, kind and faithful. Choose to be a man or woman of integrity.