Day 17

Potiphar’s Wife

Genesis 39:1-23, Proverbs 24:15-16, Ephesians 5:1-4, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

BY Sharon Hodde Miller

One of the hardest and most helpless feelings in the world is when another person deals carelessly with our reputations. Maybe it is an anonymous person online who publicly questions our motives. Maybe it is a commenter who glimpses one photo of our lives and makes assumptions about our parenting. Maybe it is a friend who is angry with us and then vents to our mutual friends. Maybe it is an ex-boyfriend, or an ex-husband, who is sharing a very different version of the break-up than the one we know to be true.

Whenever we experience slander, unfair criticism, or unfounded accusations, it can feel as though our hard-earned reputations are being dismantled brick by brick. Everything we worked for, the integrity we established over the course of years, suddenly seems fragile and vulnerable, all because of the untested words of a gossiper.

Joseph knew this helplessness well. He was a humble man of exceptional character, who spent his life climbing out of a pit, working his way up, making connections, and earning a good name, only to have it all undone by the wicked whim of a powerful woman. At least, that is how it must have seemed at the time. But that is not how Joseph’s story ended. In actuality, what determined the outcome of Joseph’s story was not power, but character.

As we now know, Joseph’s life did not end with this accusation. It seems that almost immediately, Potiphar distrusts his wife’s account. We know this because the punishment for Joseph’s supposed crime should be death, but instead, Potiphar only imprisons him. He is, in essence, not giving Joseph what he deserves. What this tells us is that Joseph’s character is influencing the outcome, and it would continue to do so for years.

In the chapters that follow, Joseph’s character opens doors for him. He gains favor with those in authority over him, until he eventually receives authority himself. Joseph is forever remembered as a noble man and a great leader; Potiphar’s wife, on the other hand, is only remembered for one of the worst decisions of her life. We don’t even know her name.

It is difficult to be on the receiving end of slander or a false accusation, but this story comforts us with this truth: your character is louder than you think. Character always reveals who you really are, and no amount of power, lies, or manipulation can hide it. This is a comfort for those of us who choose the way of holiness, but it is also a warning for when we don’t.

The sin of Potiphar’s wife was not simply lust, but the abuse of power, and none of us is immune to it. Our need for control—even when it is directed toward good and noble purposes—can lead us to compromise our integrity. “The ends justify the means,” we reason. But this is not the logic of godly character. Instead, we follow a Savior who chose to be falsely accused rather than exert His will by force.

Post Comments (38)

38 thoughts on "Potiphar’s Wife"

  1. Kat Liggitt says:

    Rather than fixing our eyes on the thoughts, words, and opinions of others – fix your eyes on Christ and who He says you are.

  2. Megan Ellingson says:

    I love this. Especially the part where it says, God was with Joseph, even in prison. God uses everything for good.

  3. Nikki Thomas says:

    I’ve found that praying for increased faith and wisdom helps me to face women that seem to judge by appearance only. They have no idea of my struggles everyday and the horrible marriage I lived through, much less the impact it had on my children. Pray for your enemies and God WILL see you through Things will turn around. God loves us. Have faith in that and walk in joy with your posture straight. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He will take care of everything. PTL

  4. Ashley Thomas says:

    My husband owns a business in a small town where he grew up. (We live an hour away in the bigger city) There is an older woman he has known since he was a child who is spreading rumors all over town about him. Reading this devotional today reminded me God will take care of her and her lies. I am hoping, like Joseph, my husband’s reputation will outshine her nonsense.

  5. Jennifer Anapol says:

    God has the last say in our lives!

  6. Bethany H says:

    A number of times, the text points out that “the Lord was with Joseph.” He was with him in the good, and He was with him in the bad. No matter what our circumstances are, we can cling to the promise that God is with us today, forever and always as we walk with Him. What a gift!

  7. Linda G says:

    Ugh. My ex-husband is lying to our daughter about the circumstances surrounding the divorce. (Suffice it to say, it was biblically justified.). Now she isn’t speaking to me, and refuses to say what she was told. Timely words for me during a painful time.

  8. melinda says:

    well thank God that now we have Jesus. and we dont have to use Gods word or Biblical references as a way to continue to keep people in their shame especially when they have repeatedly asked for forgiveness At least TheyShe and other women know that Jesus knows and called by name. in fact Jesus only hung around the broken people. He didnt call the righteous have it all together people. Jeus doesnt remind people of their sin because his blood paid the price. And judgement, bitterness and turning others against each other is not characteristics of God. these betrayal, abuse and manipulation come in many forms. when we start to claim our own righteousness and everyone elses wrong doings without seeking true understanding, true forgiveness, and unconditional love which is only explained from Gods word , then we can start forming our own truths.

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