by Bryan Stevenson
Genesis 39. I even wrote a song about it. The song wasn’t any good, but I remember that Dad was predictably impressed. (He was always impressed by his kids and grand kids, and he wasn’t shy about praising them.) The story spoke to me because Potiphar’s wife represented any sin or temptation that I was struggling with, and Joseph’s response illustrated one way to deal with that temptation. He fled. That isn’t a very manly thing to do, to run away and not even face down your enemy. It seems to show weakness in the face of temptation. However, throughout my adult life I’ve applied the tactic multiple times.
Ideally, we’d all have the self control necessary to stand firm in our convictions, but sometimes avoidance is an act of self control itself. As an example, instead of buying ice cream and disciplining myself to only have small servings on rare occasions, I will not buy the ice cream in the first place. It is much easier to decide once, at the grocery store, to avoid temptation, than it is to face it down every single time I open the freezer. It turns out that science supports this technique. In fact, your willpower is finite. It depletes itself every time you use it, and needs to be rested and restored periodically.
So, I guess Joseph was onto something when he split, leaving his coat behind in the hands of the seductress. Of course, it didn’t turn out perfectly for him at first. He ended up being accused of rape and thrown in jail. However, he did successfully resist temptation. That set the stage for even greater things in his life going forward, and the same will be true for us as we exercise good judgement and self control.