“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On….”
Genesis 41: 44, 45
King James Version
“Nothing is so strong as gentleness.”
Francois de Sales
Have I been a witness to the power of gentle, kindness to change a heart?
“One loving soul sets another on fire.”
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?”
Matthew 5: 13
King James Version
Several weeks ago, I got one of those brainstorms that says, “Why not try something new?” In this case – it was a new recipe. I made certain I had all the ingredients and then followed the instructions perfectly – or so I thought!
At supper that evening, I asked my husband how he liked the food, and because he tries to be polite, he told me it was “fine.” After being married for 30 years, I know the word “fine” really means, “It’s not one of my favorites.” With a little prodding I finally got Jim to say, “I think this dish needs more salt.” As soon as the words came out of his mouth, to my chagrin, I realized I had forgotten to put any salt in the food. Needless to say, my new recipe tasted flat – blah!
Unfortunately, dishes of food aren’t the only things that are bland and tasteless when salt is removed.
In the words of Jesus, you and I can be just like “salt less” food. We don’t add anything to the lives of those we meet. In fact, in Jesus’ description of “salt without savour,” something can be remembered for what it lacks, not what it contributes.
You may be wondering why we’re talking about salt today. We have to look no further than Joseph’s home life to understand why.
Our text today lays out what happened to Joseph when he was called from behind prison walls to stand before Pharaoh. At this time the Bible says Joseph was 30 yeas old. A man in the prime of life. A man who had just been made governor of Egypt.
With Pharaoh bestowing on him such an honor, Joseph had the world falling at his feet. And Pharaoh, recognizing that this young man had been separated from female company, decided to give Joseph a wife. This wasn’t any girl – she was an Egyptian priest’s daughter.
Here we have a unique situation. Joseph, a Hebrew, a worshipper of the God of heaven, was united in marriage with the daughter of an Egyptian priest.
One could imagine that Joseph, having so much trouble come his way, like so many people do, would blame God and toss the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob overboard. Joseph could have opted to follow the religion of his wife’s family in order to “get along.”
Instead, Joseph took a different approach. Richard Baxter wrote that, “When people see that you truly love them, they will hear anything from you.” This is how Joseph won over his family – love. You may say, “Dorothy, how do you know he influenced his family to follow the God of heaven?”
Our answer comes in Genesis 48:1, “And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, ‘Behold thy father is sick,’ and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.” Joseph wanted his father Jacob to bless his sons with the blessing of the God of heaven. When Joseph presented his sons to Jacob, these are the patriarch’s words: “And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine” (Genesis 48:5).
The Bible tells us that after Jacob and all his sons and their families came to Egypt to live at Joseph’s request, there was a time of harmony and happiness. And why could joy reign supreme? It was the salt. Everything tasted good because of the gentleness, forgiveness and love Joseph spread everywhere he went. Every person Joseph met was touched by the salt he added. He gave a wonderful flavor to everything.
It wasn’t just in the workplace that Joseph spread “salt,” he also flavored his family life with the savor of the salt of love. This certainly had to make an impact on his wife, who we never find fighting her husband or being unhappy he was lifting up the God of heaven in the lives of her children. Isn’t it wonderful that in the end of Jacob’s life, God’s blessing was expanded to include the children of an Egyptian priests daughter and her Hebrew husband! Isn’t it wonderful what a little “salt” can do!
The American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “What you are shouts so loud in my ears I cannot hear what you say.” This is the testimony that lives down through the ages from the life of Joseph.
“The greatest power for good is the power of example.”
“Let us preach you, Dear Jesus, without preaching; not by words but by our example; by the casting force, the sympathetic influence of what we do, the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to you.” Amen
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus