Summary: Joseph understood that he existed not for himself, but for others. We would do well to understand and live that truth as well.
Genesis 45 I EXIST FOR OTHERS Friday
3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God... 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.
So what have we learned so far from the story of Joseph? On Monday, we learned that God is not our co-pilot, God is the pilot of our lives, that he has a plan for our lives just as he had a plan for Joseph's life. And just as Joseph respected God's plan by not sinning, but instead by forgiving, so also God wants us to respect his plan for our lives. And we respect that plan by resisting sin and doing the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do. That was Monday.
On Tuesday, we learned about forgiveness. Just as Joseph forgave his brothers who mistreated him, God wants us to forgive the people who mistreat us. Everyone agrees, even the non-Christians, that this is the hardest thing in the world to do. But we can do it, when we remember that God has forgiven us and treats us with mercy, and so we treat others with forgiveness and mercy too.
Yesterday, we talked about how God wants us to start honoring him today with our lives. We don't have permission, just because we are young, to sin on purpose or to slack off in everything we do. Joseph was only 17 when God spoke to him in dreams and moved him to Egypt. God's plan for our lives is going on right now, so let's honor him today, by resisting sin and working hard in everything that we do. "Now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation."
There is one last thought I want to leave with you, as we focus on the story of Joseph. I want you to look at your life and really think about this statement - "I exist for others." Do you believe that? Joseph did. Joseph believed that he existed, ultimately, for God to use to help others. Listen again to his statements here… it was to save lives that God sent me… God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives." Joseph understood that this amazing thing that God did for him - that he went from living in an Egyptian prison to being in charge of Egypt - this wasn't for him. This was for others. Joseph existed for others - to save people from starvation. Joseph existed to save the family of the Savior from being wiped off the earth by a famine. Ultimately, Joseph existed for you. Through the work of Joseph, the Savior family lived on, and from that family came the Jesus who took away your sins. Joseph understood - I exist for others.
Do you understand that? The education you are getting - what's it all for? Is it for yourself, so that you can have lots of money and pleasure and things someday - for yourself? The abilities that you have - the academic gifts or the musical gifts or athletic gifts or whatever else you're good at - is it all for you? Is that what life is all about - you? Or, do you understand this very simple sentence - I exist for others. Do you know who the most miserable and lonely people in the world are? It's the people who are selfish. The people who think, "I exist for me." And they use their time and abilities and money and everything else for themselves.
I've heard people say that young people can sometimes be the most self-centered, self-absorbed people on the face of the earth. I think that can be true. But I don’t think that ends when you graduate from high school. We all struggle with sins of selfishness, regardless of our age. We all forget that we exist for others.