38So Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can anyone find a man like this, in whom is the spirit of God?”
39To Joseph Pharaoh said, “Since God has shown you all of this, there is nobody as wise and knowledgeable as you. 40You will be in charge of my household and all my people will be ruled at your word. Only with regard to the throne itself will I be greater than you.” — Genesis 41:38-40
(This is Henry again, writing for Jody. Her work required a late night and early morning!)
Have you ever had someone tell you that you were very wise, and that they expected to hear good advice from you? Do you suppose it would be nice?
I have had this happen to me, and I find it quite terrifying. I might say something that I think is off the cuff and someone else thinks it’s a gem of wisdom. Provided they’re using their own God-given discernment, and testing everything, there is no reason to be terrified. If they’re not, of course, they need to be pointed to God, the source of all wisdom.
It’s not that any one of us can’t express wisdom or give good advice. It’s just that most of us also give bad advice, and of course we don’t want our friends to be following our bad advice. Nonetheless, iron is to sharpen iron (Proverbs 27:17), so we have to leave it in God’s hands and rebuke that terror that says someone else is going to follow our advice straight to perdition!
I was thinking about it just this morning as I had a decision to make and felt distinctly empty of wisdom. It occurred to me that I had advised other people in similar circumstances, but now I couldn’t come to a decision myself.
That’s when I remembered the story of Joseph that I’ve been reading recently. I find the stories of the Bible so helpful. We can learn from both the triumphs and the mistakes. Joseph stands before Pharaoh, still a prisoner. His life has gone downhill from favored son, to slave, and finally into the dungeon.
I think he may have had second thoughts about some of his decisions along the way. Perhaps he wished he had never told those dreams. Maybe he should have worn his new coat only when the brothers weren’t watching. Maybe he should have asked his dad not to make such a scene about their special relationship. Maybe he shouldn’t have gone into the house that day when there was nobody but the boss’s wife around! Maybe, maybe, maybe!
I’m looking at this today from two angles. First, if I’m in the position to offer advice or wisdom, it’s not what I have done that’s important. It’s the way God has brought me to this place. I may have stumbled. God may have had to dig me out of the ditch a few times, but he has gotten me to this point. Other people may place greater weight on my words than they should, but God can handle even that!
Second, I have to recognize when God is asking me to listen to someone else. It’s very easy to decide that if I dispense advice, I must be able to make good decisions for myself in all cases. To think that is to forget God, the source of all wisdom. God may use someone else to set me straight. I may lack the perspective to see where God is leading or to hear what God is saying.
In both cases the problem is forgetting that God is the source, and expecting to get the job done myself. Whether I dispense good advice (or bad), or receive good advice (or forget to do so!), depending on God (â€œthe spirit of the gods is in himâ€ — Genesis 41:39) is my only safety.