Bible reading: Genesis 37:1-11; Genesis 45:1-15
Have you ever interpreted information wrongly? Like you saw an alert from your bank, and because you were so broke, you were already rejoicing, only to realize that it was a debit alert, not a credit alert.
I think that’s what it must have been like with Joseph. How do you think Joseph interpreted his dreams? You’ve probably heard a lot and talked a lot about Joseph having a dream of greatness.
What was the greatness?
I’m not sure how Joseph interpreted his dreams initially. Maybe they were dreams of power and authority. Maybe they were dreams of control- being able to do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, however he wanted to whoever he wanted. But as we follow through the story, we find that it had become to Joseph a dream to serve.
But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life…I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine.” Genesis 45:5, 11 NKJV
Whatever was greatness about Joseph was simply a journey of serving.
We’ve defined a disciple as someone who is committed to following and learning from another, fully embracing the trainings and disciplines therein. One of the core disciplines that a disciple embraces is the discipline of serving.
Joseph’s dream was not to rule his family and the world. It was that he would serve his family and generation. It was that God would take the gifting, the wisdom, the abilities, the influence and position that he had blessed Joseph with and use it to serve his family and the world.
Because it was all about service, even the journey he travelled to the ‘big one’ was a journey of serving- serving Potiphar, serving the fellow prisoners and then serving Pharaoh and the whole world- but through it all, serving God.
I fear that our generation is overly ambitious and has misrepresented what should be dreams of serving as dreams of authority. We have lost the revelation that greatness is serving, not the reward for serving. Joseph didn’t move on to greatness after serving. Joseph served all through and was great all through.
Jesus shocks his disciples when he demonstrates this truth:
Who do people think is the greatest, a person who is served or one who serves? Isn’t it the one who is served? But I have been with you as a servant Luke 22:27 CEV
Disciples deploy their hands, their hearts, their resources, their influence and wisdom in commitment to the cause that they belong to. They do not do it because it is a pathway through which they will come to authority. They do it because they are sold out and committed to the cause that they follow.
Paul says about Timothy:
But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel Philippians 2:22 NKJV
Disciples serve humbly and committedly
But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of the Lord by him?” So one of the servants of the king of Israel answered and said, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” 2 Kings 3:11 NKJV
It is interesting how Elisha was introduced- not just the guy who followed Elijah, but the guy who served Elijah- he poured water on the hands of Elijah. Being a disciple is not about serving in convenience and when it feels good. It’s about a commitment to serve humbly, committedly and consistently.
Disciples do not merely follow, they serve the cause and the person that they follow. And they do it selflessly and humbly.
We can’t claim to be disciples of Jesus simply because we believe in him. Disciples of Jesus serve him by serving his church and his people. Jesus taught us to serve each other by washing one another’s feet. Disciples of Jesus deploy their time, their resources, their skill and gifts, their wisdom and all that they have, for the furtherance of the cause of Jesus. It is not a thing special christians do, it is a thing all followers of Jesus are called to do. Not doing that is misrepresenting the dream.
We forget so often. The disciple is the servant and it is his duty to serve. Here’s what Jesus tells us every time we feel so self-obsessed about the privilege of serving:
Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ Luke 17:9-10 NKJV
To be a disciple is to embrace the calling to serve. Does God bless those who serve him? Yes, he absolutely does! But the moment the driving force for serving him is the results it brings, then you are using the acts of a servant to manipulate God. The heart of a disciple is not just the act of a servant, but the heart of a servant- it is a heart that loves the cause it follows and is sold out to serving it.
How will your words, your influence, your resources, your social media, your time and your gifting serve the Cause of Jesus Christ and his people today?