Success in the Trial:
What Makes the Servant Profitable?
Text: Genesis 39:1-6
“… and he (Joseph) served him (Potiphar) …” (Genesis 39:4)
Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37). Joseph was now a slave in the house of Potiphar, “an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard” (Genesis 39:1).
Joseph was innocent of any crime, but he had found himself an object of the envy and jealousy of his brothers because of his father’s love for him, manifested by his coat of many colors (Genesis 37). His brothers were also jealous because Joseph was a dreamer, and he had dreamed he would reign over his family. The brothers hated him, and finally sold him to the Ishmaelites, who sold him as a slave to Potiphar in Egypt.
Joseph’s circumstances had gone from stardom, being the object of his father’s love, a place of preeminence – to the depth of slavery, being enslaved to a human master; now not the head – but the tail. His situation was grievous, of the lowest estate a man could sink to. Slavery meant bondage, a loss of personal freedom.
However, Joseph was in the center of our Sovereign God’s Will. Joseph was exactly where God placed him to carry out the Will of God, as the savior of Jacob and his sons and family; and the savior of many in Egypt. And in doing so, Joseph would type out Christ, the Savior of God’s People, Jew and Gentile.
Joseph would have to endure the hatred of his own brothers, endure slavery, and endure prison for many years – before being elevated to the Prime Minister of Egypt, next to the Pharaoh himself.
Joseph had already endured the wrath of his brothers, and had been sold into slavery. Now, as Joseph was a slave in Potiphar’s house, God gave him tokens that he was in the center of God’s Will – no matter the outward adverse circumstance of slavery.
These tokens were:
- “The LORD was with him (Joseph)” (Genesis 39:3);
- He was blessed by God, “he was a prosperous man” (Genesis 39:2);
- “And his master (Potiphar) saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.” (Genesis 39:3);
- “And Joseph found grace in his (Potiphar’s) sight” (Genesis 39:4)
These four tokens were the results of the direct inward work on Joseph by the Sovereign God – Jehovah.
But God also required Joseph to carry out the servant’s role to Potiphar. Genesis 39:4b says, “…and he (Joseph) served him (Potiphar).”
James 1:22 says we must be a “doer” of God’s Word, and not a “hearer” only.
God had not only given Joseph the four tokens listed above, but God also had done a work of grace in Joseph’s spirit to give him the desire and power to perform as a good and faithful and loyal servant to Potiphar (see Philippians 2:13; Psalm 110:3).
A servant is:
- One who is ranked under another;
- One who carries out the commands of his master, his authority;
- One who has been assigned the responsibility to serve another.
There are two kinds of servants. One is the unprofitable servant, who is a wicked and rebellious servant (Matthew 25:30; Luke 17:10, Romans 3:12; Philemon 11). Second is the profitable servant (Matthew 25:21, 23).
What makes a servant profitable?
First – Attitude
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21)
“And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” (Luke 12:42-43)
The profitable servant is one who is good and faithful, diligent, and determined. He is “servant of all”:
“And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
“But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.” (Mark 10:43-44)
(Also see John 13:16; 15:20; 1 Corinthians 9:19; Philemon 16.)
The profitable servant is also “chosen.” See Matthew 12:18, speaking of Christ. But we must be “chosen in him (Christ)” (Ephesians 1:4-11; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; John 15:16). That is, you must be regenerated by God the Spirit. When this happens:
- You are raised from the dead in sin and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1; Romans 6:4-10).
- You are set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
- You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, whereby you cry “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:3-16).
- You have the Love of God implanted in your spirit (Romans 5:5).
- You are made “a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore you love God and your neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40; John 14:15; 13:34-35; 1 John 3:11-24; 4:7-21). (See below, “Actions.”)
- You know your power is Christ living in you (Galatians 2:20).
- You know the just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17b).
- Your desire is to please Christ above all things, even your own self.
- You know you are a steward (1 Corinthians 4:1-2). When you are a steward, you must be faithful. This leads us to:
Second – Actions
You will be a faithful steward:
“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2)
You will walk in love, in the light, circumspectly, full of the Spirit, with thanksgiving, and in submission to God and one another (Ephesians 5:1-33). You will love God and your neighbor.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)
The Love of God is what makes a servant serve (uprightly, righteously, justly, honestly, and diligently).
See Joseph’s actions in Genesis 39:4-6, “and he served him” (verse 4b).
Joseph served Potiphar – as unto Christ. No matter his adverse circumstances, Joseph had a new attitude, the attitude of the Holy Spirit; which made him perceive:
1. He was “the Lord’s freeman”; he was serving Christ, and not man:
“Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.” (1 Corinthians 7:21-22)
2. Joseph knew he was the Lord’s steward, and he must be faithful.
Therefore, the new attitude of the Holy Spirit made his actions to be in love to God and to his neighbor.
Reader, where are you? Are you unprofitable, or are you profitable?
Notice God’s tokens to you; also notice your attitude and actions. Do these match what God did to and in Joseph, and for Joseph in Potiphar’s house? If not, why not? What is the problem?
The answer is submission to God as Master; surrender to His Will; obedience to His Word; and endurance in the same.
The secret to Joseph’s success in bondage was “and he served him.” This service must be as Christ served; every action was totally and completely to the Father, to please Him, to carry out the perfect Will of God, to be His Servant and the Savior of His People as their Substitute and Sacrifice.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:5)
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:” (Philippians 2:6)
“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:” (Philippians 2:7)
“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8)
When one serves as Christ served, then he shall be rewarded.