The Bible is filled with examples of those who finished well and those who did not. If you’re like me, you’d like to finish well! The men and women of the Bible remind us it is not how you start, it is how you finish. The mentors and coaches in Joseph’s story teach us how to finish well.
Joseph’s life was a mixture of good and bad. He was his father’s favorite child, which is good. But his brothers were jealous of him and hated him, which was bad. When the brothers wanted to kill him, the oldest put Joseph in a pit to spare his life and return him to his father. That is good! But his brothers sold Joseph into slavery and he ends up a long way from home in a foreign land of Egypt. That was bad! When he was hated, enslaved, falsely accused, thrown in prison, and forgotten, it would have been easy for Joseph to give up. But the Lord was with him, favored him, and gave him the strength to go on instead of give up! Life is a journey. Life is not a pain, a problem, or a puzzle. It is a pilgrimage. Certainly this is something Joseph’s father, Jacob, passed down. In Genesis 46:1, we read that Jacob sought the Lord before going to Egypt. He went to Beersheba, the same place that Abraham and Isaac had gone, and offered sacrifices to the Lord. Beersheba means the place of oath or vow. In the middle of life’s good and bad, sometimes you just need to go back to Beersheba. Go back to the place and time you made a commitment to live for God and “re-up.” Decide you will finish well. Crisis will either make you a bitter person or a better person. You are going to die the way you live. Live in faith and you will die in faith. Live in fear and you will die in fear. Live well so you will finish well.
Not only can you leave a legacy by the way you live your life, but you can also leave a legacy through your death. Death is the history and destiny of every person who has ever lived. Death is the great leveler. It matters not how attractive, athletic, or wealthy, we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. Jacob did before his death what every believer should do for their family. He knew he was going to die so he gave them instructions (Gen. 47:29-30). Don’t put your loved ones through the pressure of having to make decisions at such a highly emotional time. Your funeral will be your final words. What do you want to say? The greatest gift you can give your family is not money but the Master, not stocks but the Savior, not land but the Lord. Jacob also blessed each of his sons. It was a prophecy and a reminder that one day every believer will stand at the Judgement Seat of Christ. The purpose is not to determine whether or not we get to go to heaven. Our eternal destiny is determined before we leave this earth (He who believes has life, He who does not believe is condemned). The purpose is to give an account for our lives. The things done for Christ will last. The things not done for Christ will burn up.
At the end of Joseph’s life, he makes a profound statement to his brothers. He says to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good…” (Gen. 50:19-20). Joseph didn’t deny what his brothers did was evil. He also didn’t make this statement of faith as a child, a teen, in the pit, or in prison. It was as he looked back on his life. It was a process. Sanctification is a process. Life is a journey. Feeling says it was all evil. Faith says Satan, the brothers, and Potiphar’s wife all meant it for evil, BUT GOD meant it for good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” There is purpose in your pain.
Legacy is about eternity! Joseph was 17 when they sold him into slavery. He lived 17 years with his father in Egypt. Then, he lived another 50-60 years after his father died. He enjoyed being G-Daddy to his great, great, great grandchildren (Ge. 50:22-23)! Like Job, the later years of his life were greater than the start.
Leave a legacy. Tell your children the promises of God. Youth are the future of the church, but the experience and years of walking with God lies with seniors. If you have walked with God for years, hand down your faith to the next generation. The scariest verse about Joseph in the Bible is Exodus 1:8, “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” Joshua 2:10 says, “…another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” We do not want a generation to grow up who knows not our God, the God of Joseph.