Summary: There is a close correlation between faith and the discipline necessary to grow great faith.
Faith and Discipline
Have you ever noticed the close relationship between faith and discipline? How could we ever have real genuine faith without the discipline that makes faith? I am in favor of faith without discipline. Discipline is not one of my favorite occurrences. When it comes to discipline I believe that I’m pretty much of a coward. Who in their right mind would choose to go through bad, troubling times so that they will grow in their faith? Yet, without those bad, troubling times how great could our faith actually be?
For an example of faith, let’s take a look at a man whose life represented faith. No matter what life dealt this man his faith in God took him through all the bad times that came his way. This man’s name is Joe. Now everyone in this room knows the story of Joe. You know Joe, don’t you? You know the book of Joe. It’s found in the Old Testament. Okay, Joseph was his full name and his story is found in Genesis. You know that almost 30% of the Book of Genesis was written about Joseph. Why do you think that was? His life was lived in faith for the God that he served.
Joe’s story starts in Genesis 37 and goes to the end of that book. Joe is first mentioned in Genesis as a seventeen year old favored son of Jacob. He was much loved by his father Jacob and his Father in heaven. This however, didn’t sit well with his brothers. They became so jealous of Joe that they began to hate him. This was some really bad sibling rivalry. Jacob didn’t do much to stop the jealousy, as a matter of fact; he made the situation even worse. He gave his favored son a beautiful multi-colored coat. That was the icing on the cake, now they really hated their brother.
I don’t know if Joe was a little bit dense or if he just ignored the hate that his brothers felt for him. He made matters worse yet by telling them his dreams. He told them that he dreamt that one day they would all bow down and worship him. You talk about slapping your enemy in the face and rubbing in that favored status. He just escalated this hate into full-fledged war. Maybe, Joe’s faith in his God was so great he knew no matter what happened, his God would care for him. I really don’t know? He stepped out on a limb by telling his brothers this dream probably because he trusted and loved his God.
Genesis 37, His brothers didn’t waste any time in taking care of their problem concerning Joe. The very next time they found him alone they grabbed him and through him in a cistern and contemplated killing him. God had other plans for Joe. God can change the plans of man. A caravan of travelers happened along and they sold Joe to the voyagers. They sold their own flesh and blood. Their brother. I don’t know about you, but that would have been a very low point of my life. I would have fallen into deep despair and depression. How could anything good come of this? Where was Joe’s God when he needed him? Why did he allow such an event as this?
Did Joe despair? Maybe, a little at first. Was Joe depressed? Maybe, a little at first. How could something this traumatic not impact your live in the negative? Your problems, though, don’t have to keep you down.
How you handle yourself when problems come along will make the difference. You will either grow in faith or give up on God. Joe’s resolve left no doubt that he knew God was in control of his life.
Genesis 39:1-4. When Joe got to Egypt, a wealthy Egyptian bought Joe from the traders. Joe was so sure of God that he did nothing but his very best to please his owner. If Joe was discouraged from his circumstances, he sure didn’t show his displeasure with life. He was dealt a bad hand in life and he was going to make the best out this situation. God saw that Joe’s faith was strong and prospered him even in captivity. We don’t know why Joe was disciplined this way but we see that discipline did not make his faith falter. Here is a valuable lesson, how you handle discipline can affect God’s plans for you.
God wasn’t finished with Joe. He had great plans for Joe. However, Joe was not ready for the ultimate plan. More growth was necessary for Joe before God could use him to accomplish His will. Genesis 39:11-19, Joe found out that being the favored son and now the favored servant wasn’t all that it was meant to be. It seems when Joe stepped out of the frying pan; he was up to his neck in hot oil.