Have you ever seen an actor or actress accept an Oscar? While most of them are too secular to even mention God, even the more pious of them will begin their speech by saying, “I want to thank God,” but then quickly move on to all the people they really want to thank. In their minds, God might deserve some token words of praise, but in reality, they did all the work and deserve all the glory.
This isn’t the case with Joseph. Once he reveals himself to his brothers, he explains what happened to him since they sold him into slavery. At least three times in his speech, he specifically gives the glory to God for all that has happened.
Please read Genesis 45:4-15.
Joseph has every right to be angry with his brothers for what they did to him, and he doesn’t let them off the hook. He repeats the fact that they sold him into slavery, acknowledging that it’s natural for them to feel distressed or ashamed about this. But, he then tells them that God was working all things together for the good of many people:
“God sent me before you to preserve life” (verse 5).
“God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors” (verse 7).
“God has made me lord of all Egypt” (verse 9).
In Joseph’s eyes, it’s all about God. He’s not some superstar who wants to give God token appreciation; he genuinely believes that every good thing that has happened to him has been because of God’s supernatural working.
What about you? When you receive special praise or honor, do you direct the glory back to God?
As a pastor, I often receive comments after the sermon such as, “that was such a great message,” or “you did a really great job today.” Its only natural to swell with pride and think that I deserve the adulation. But I must remind myself that I only preached a good message because God’s Holy Spirit was working through me. I am a sinful person who is only capable of doing great things because God has freed me from my bondage to sin through the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ, and He has enabled me, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to live for Him.
How do I remind myself of this truth? For me, whenever I receive a compliment on my sermon, for instance, I redirect the attention back to God: “Thank you, I’m glad God could use me to speak to you,” or “Thank you, God was really working today, wasn’t He?”
I know that most of you reading this aren’t preachers, but hopefully you can use these examples in your own life.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23). And when people give you credit for your hard work, redirect them to the Lord, who is working in you and through you for His glory.