1. FIDELITY & DEPENDABILITY
Integrity: moral uprightness; honesty – Oxford English Reference Dictionary
When his master saw that the LORD was with [Joseph] and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favour in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. – Ge 39:5
What a whirlwind ride for Joseph. After nearly being killed but instead sold as a slave by green-eyed brothers, Joseph was taken to Egypt — but the Lord was with him. Joseph’s relationship with God was clearly apparent, and he demonstrated fidelity to Potiphar’s trust: he was honest about his role (“…everything he owns he has entrusted to my care” – Ge 39:8), and dependable in his actions (albeit unknown to Potiphar at the time, but known to God). Most importantly, Joseph’s primary concern was for what God thought: “How then could I…sin against God?” (Ge 39:9). He would have known that succumbing to temptation would have also dishonoured Potiphar, but his critical focus was on what offence the act would bring to God.
From a practical point of view, we can hone such integrity through planned moral accountability. That accountability may not be through regular one-on-one sessions with a prayer buddy; it may just be a moral defence plan that will kick in when it matters. Surely Joseph had that disciplined system in place to resist the repetitious advances of Mrs Potiphar. To resist such temptation he did the only thing he could under the circumstances: run. Paul advises, “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Co 6:18) — and Joseph did just that. He didn’t stick around to test his moral strength, or try to rationalise Mrs P’s seduction and talk her out of it — he just hightailed it out of the potentially compromising situation (although it’s better not to leave evidence that can be used against you — but his righteousness, and God’s overarching plan, ultimately prevailed).
2. HONESTY & ACCOUNTABILITY
You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. – Mt 25:21 & 23
In the parable of the Talents (a talent is more than a thousand dollars) the servants who were given five and two talents returned with five and two more, respectively. They both doubled their investment and were given the same commendation. Compare and contrast this parable with that of the Ten Minas in Luke 19 (1 talent = 60 minas) when the servants were given the same amount but returned with differing profits, and were rewarded proportionately. However, in both parables the servant who hid what he was given was chastised and punished for not investing it — and his share was given to the one who gained most for the master.
To be trusted with much, you must be able to be trusted with little — the good steward obeys and makes his master’s money ‘work’ and gain profit. As any employee knows, you don’t advance by doing nothing (unless through nepotism), and even when you work hard your gains may not be commensurate with the energy you’ve expended. Our gifts and talents are from our Master’s wealth. We often waste an inordinate amount of time and effort trying to better ourselves in ways and fields with which we were never gifted. Sometimes we would do well to heed any “better stick to your day job” advice and just stop and think where we’re heading, asking ourselves, “Am I productively developing a God-given talent or skill, or simply wasting my time searching for other avenues to serve God that just aren’t open to me?”