“Now Joseph was well built and handsome. After some time the wife of Joseph’s master began to desire Joseph, and one day she said to him, “Have sexual relations with me.” But Joseph refused and said to her, “My master trusts me with everything in his house. He has put me in charge of everything he owns. There is no one in his house greater than I. He has not kept anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How can I do such an evil thing? It is a sin against God.” The woman talked to Joseph every day, but he refused to have sexual relations with her or even spend time with her.” Genesis 39:6b-10 (NCV)
The Importance of Practice
“Annie, Annie are your all right?” If you’ve had CPR training you’ve uttered those words. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, CPR, training is a yearly rite of passage for health care workers.
I’ll admit, there were years when I didn’t take the training very seriously. I always joked, “I’ll be the one to get the crash cart. Someone else can do the CPR.” I was successful for many years. I had some narrow escapes. I was involved in heath care for more than 20 years before I actually had to do CPR. Before that fateful day, I prided myself on getting the patient transferred to a critical care unit before CPR was necessary. I was very motivated. The thought of doing CPR frightened me.
Working in the operating room ended my perfect record. Since becoming a OR nurse, I’ve done CPR more than I would care to.
Those tedious training days finally paid off.
Taking Practice Seriously
The training for CPR is tedious because during training nothing is at stake. Each year I go through the same motions. “Annie, Annie are you all right—go get help—go get the crash cart—I’ll start CPR.” The other people in the group play along—going through the motions—not really taking the exercise that seriously. The written test completed and a new card issued—and I’m done for another year.
Since the old days, the dummies have gotten smarter. The hospital where I work has an automated CPR dummy that displays critical cardiac rhythms, has a chest that moves up and down to simulate breathing and “talks.” Still, only the dummy’s heart rate changes during training.
I found out on day when I had to do CPR for real, the training I thought was silly, tedious and a partial waste of time came in handy. I had gone through the motions for so many years that on the day when it mattered, I knew what to do. Even though I was nervous and the situation appeared chaotic, my actions were almost automatic.
Practice makes perfect. The perfect practice takes place when nothing is at stake. The perfect practice takes place when an error is a learning opportunity, and not an irreversible mistake.
Catch up with Joseph. Sold to Potiphar, Joseph grows into a handsome, accomplished, trusted ruler of Potiphar’s house. Not bad, for a boy with a bad beginning. I’m sure Joseph missed his dad and maybe even his brothers, but this was a good gig. Potiphar was a good master who appreciated the skills God gave Joseph.
Until one day…
You probably know the story. After many verbal advances, Potiphar’s wife got grabby. Joseph ran away out of respect for God and his master, Potiphar. Mrs. Potiphar lied and Joseph’s life changed once again —for the worse.
How did Joseph resist the feminine wiles of Mrs. Potiphar? Joseph didn’t begin resisting the day she grabbed his jacket. He didn’t even begin resisting at her first invitation. Joseph began resisting when there was no temptation. At some point, Joseph determined what his actions would and wouldn’t be in certain situations, quite possibly long before he lived in Egypt. In his mind, he practiced what he would do—he determined the boundaries of his integrity before there was a temptress. Notice there was nothing special about the day Mrs. Potiphar grabbed Joseph.
Joseph had to be pre-prepared.
Practice Makes Perfect
Is there a certain sin that talks to you every day? I’m not one to dwell on the thoughts of sin—that often leads to condemnation instead of God’s forgiving grace. I do believe, victory rarely comes without practice. Jesus set clear boundaries for the believer’s behavior in His Sermon on the Mount. What are you going to do when someone else catches your eye, when someone asks for your coat or when you see your enemy in need? If you wait until that moment arises, you might fail—when emotions run high sound judgment typically runs low.
Let me share a personal example with you. It seems trivial, but I think it’s a foundation for honesty and integrity. I decided years ago, if a cashier gave me too much change or undercharged me for an item, I would tell him or her—I would always give it back the extra change or point out the mistake. I decided that when I was alone at home or in Sunday School. Now, when I’m in line at the store and the cashier hands me an extra $10 bill, I don’t have to decide what to do—I decided years ago. I decided when there was no temptation to take the money and run. I’ll tell you, it makes handing back that money (that is not mine) much easier.
It seems trivial but I’d call it prudent.
Joseph, Daniel and his friends determined what they would do—long before the decision had to be made. The practice—that going through the motions—made all the difference on the day when the test was real.
Victory is never an accident.
Father, help me in my weakness. I pray Your Holy Spirit would guide me, empower me, teach me, and drill me on days when I’m not tempted so on the day when temptation occurs, I’ll be ready to act honorably, with integrity and determination. Help me live a life that brings glory to You and Your power.