She couldn’t have known so long ago that her story would be included in the Bible, but it is. And I’m sure she didn’t know that her name would be missing from the story, but it is. You see that’s just it. We read the story of Potiphar’s wife today and we don’t typically think of it as her story. It seems to be all about Joseph, and yes he is the main character, but today our focus is on her.
Like her missing name, I wonder if Mrs. Potiphar felt that something was missing in her life. Maybe she was lonely in the shadow of the Egyptian leader, almost as if her life didn’t matter. After all he was a busy man with responsibilities, and she was missing her quality time with him. Potiphar chose to delegate some of his authority to Joseph to run his household and all of his belongings. And doing so often left him in the presence of Mrs. Potiphar. I imagine that she thought to herself, I deserve to be happy.
The Bible’s description of Joseph leads us to believe that he could be cast in the lead role for a romance movie. He was undoubtedly attractive to Mrs. Potiphar. Perhaps thinking her husband was out handling the country’s business, and too busy to attend to her needs, she went there. Where? Seduction. She asked Joseph to sleep with her. He said no. Day after day, she attempted to wear down his strong will. This is where we usually elaborate on the good godly character of Joseph who refused her advances, but this is Mrs. Potiphar’s story. She made up in her mind that she was going to get what she wanted, and she wanted Joseph, married or not.
When Joseph failed to give in to her sexual advances, a spirit of rejection quickly gripped Mrs. Potiphar, followed by a disdain for him. Once in an attempt to escape her clutches, he ran out leaving a piece of his clothing. She used it against him, and began telling a lie that he’d attempted to rape her. Her husband believed her and sent Joseph to prison.
Today, there are still people who lust after something or somebody. It may not be a Joseph, but it could be something else in your life that makes you think. I want it. I know it’s wrong, but it will make me happy. Surely God wants me to be happy.
Let me caution you about that train of thought. It isn’t godly. Happiness is based on things happening. It’s an emotion. But joy is an attitude of the heart. Growing up, I remember that I was not always happy when doing chores or being disciplined, but if I focused on the fact that my parents loved me, I could still find joy during those times.
I know what you’re thinking, but don’t be so quick to dismiss this topic of lust. It could be a job that makes you consider compromising your values, just a little, in order to advance. Or it could be having a third slice of the luscious Triple Chocolate Cake with a slice of sweet potato pie on the side. Don’t judge.
“But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.” I Corinthians 11:31
I imagine Mrs. Potiphar’s story began with a thought, one that challenged the truth of God. That way of thinking led to other wrong choices and the near ruin of someone’s life.
Don’t be afraid to check your thoughts. Make them obey Christ.
It could save you a world of trouble.
Cassandra Woods is an inspirational writer and speaker who has seen God’s word become real in her own life. She finds great joy in sharing God’s love with other women and encouraging them to develop an intimate relationship with God. Cassandra is married to Christopher and is the mother of a teenager and three young adults. To read more about her, click here.