Sunday, March 20, 2016

Genesis 39:9-12: Knowing When to Walk Away

[Potiphar] is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” And although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not consent to lie beside her or to be with her. One day, however, when he went into the house to do his work, and while no one else was in the house, she caught hold of his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. (Genesis 39:9-12)

The publication Our Daily Bread posted a meditation on this Scripture that I find invaluable, and I am sharing it with you below.  This meditation reveals a reality that I frequently face, the temptation to engage in quarrels or debates.

In Genesis, we read how Potiphar’s wife tempted Joseph. He immediately recognized that giving in would cause him to “sin against God,” so he fled. Temptation knocks often at our door. Sometimes it comes from our own desires, other times through the situations and people we encounter. (Our Daily Bread: March 18, 2016)

Throughout the above meditation, which can be found here, the author narrates a personal story about his father.  His father dealt with difficult situations by discerning when to walk away, and in the examples given, the temptation to alcohol and arguing with others, we can identify with this struggle.

To build on his point, the author cites 1 Corinthians 10:13, one of my favorite passages from Paul’s letters. Paul counsels a Corinthian church that is divided and has fallen into sin. He advises, moreover, that they hold on to God’s offered grace in the midst of temptation:

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

God’s “way out so that [we] may be able to endure it” can be a special grace to persevere or, in the father’s case, proper discernment on when to get up and prayerfully leave.

There are many times when I engage in a given conflict rather than leave it, whether it be disagreeing with others, chiding my kids, or being stubborn on a point with my wife.  That engagement often opens the door to temptation and less-than-charitable action. Sometimes walking away in prayer is best, even though there are times when we are called to put up a defense and offer loving witness. Proper discernment in the Holy Spirit is crucial, and that discernment requires time and prayer.

May the peace and love of Christ be with you all.