Joseph was young, most likely still a teenager, when he fled from Potiphar’s wife. Why did he flee and resist sexual sin? Most people would think youth is a liability in this situation. The answer is that Joseph was protected be a combination of wisdom and emotion. Let’s look at Joseph’s encounter with Potiphar’s wife. She attempted to entrap him sexually. She appealed to the immediate situation—no one else was around and she was ready for him, even demanding sex with him. How many teenagers in the church today would have resisted that scenario? Yet there was such a powerful vision of God and his honor in Joseph’s heart that he was emotionally repulsed at her advances.
Here is how he responds:
“Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God” (Genesis 39:8-9).
Joseph’s response was like Job’s. Job feared God and shunned evil. The same equation of wisdom driven by emotion was present in Job’s life.
The next factor that protected Joseph was his understanding of righteousness. In his response, Joseph was repulsed by the enticement Potiphar’s wife offered. He was repulsed by what was wrong. The choice between righteousness and wickedness was a choice of profound consequence. Again, he is reacting emotionally in a good way. “How could I do such a thing?” Joseph is foreshadowing the words of Moses, hundreds of years later, when Moses says, “They are not idle words for you. They are your life.”
The last factor we will consider is that Joseph knew that God was present with him. God was not just an abstract idea that his father believed in. Joseph was aware of the very presence of God in his life. God was real to him. Joseph knew it was foolish even to consider sinning when he was always in the presence of God.
So, here are three dynamic factors that led to the wisdom’s protection for Joseph:
A strong love of wisdom—so much so that Joseph was driven emotionally to flee from the grip of sexual temptation.
Joseph was emotionally tied to the specific content of righteousness. If something was not righteous, it was morally repugnant to Joseph.
Joseph was acutely aware of God’s presence.
These three factors fit perfectly with the message of Proverbs 2 and how wisdom protects those who are devoted to it. Read again the first five verses of Proverbs 2.
These words are emotionally charged. Sometimes we are too self-conscious to cry aloud or call out for insight. Perhaps we are embarrassed to be recognized as someone who is consumed with knowing God’s wisdom. But Solomon is clear: if wisdom is to be had, it must be had with emotion—the same emotion we see in Joseph’s life.
Commit your life to helping your teenagers be passionate about wisdom!