One of my favorite Bible characters from the Old Testament is Joseph. Yes, the guy with the colorful coat and the brothers who possessed more animosity than a Christmas dinner with nosy in-laws! Why is Joseph so intriguing? Well, it is quite simple—because he was faithful to the Lord, no matter how much mud was slung at him. In fact, like Daniel, we have none of Joseph’s faults listed in the Bible, not because either was sinless, but because God wanted us to know that it is possible to live above reproach.
Let me define what I mean by “living above reproach.” First of all, it does not mean perfect, for Jesus was the only perfect One to ever walk upon this Earth. Rather, living above reproach simply means that you conduct your life in such a way that if an accuser steps forward with a false accusation against you, it will not stick. Even throughout the recorded history in God’s Word, God was never looking for perfect people, he was seeking followers who would live above reproach.
A prime example of this would be David. Now, we know that he was an adulterer and murderer who tried to cover up his sin with Bathsheba. But we also know that in the New Testament Luke writes, “And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will’” (Acts 13:22).
While we do not often use the terminology “above reproach,” a modern-day rendering would be a word with which we are very familiar: integrity. As I have been preaching in my own church the series “Joseph: Living above Reproach,” I have stressed that God is not concerned about your level of success, degrees, or notoriety. He simply desires that you exhibit integrity. Integrity is based upon personal character. While character is who we are when no one is looking, integrity is how we appear when the enemy is trying to unravel our Christian testimony publicly.
If you are familiar with the account of Joseph, which begins in Genesis 37 with him as a seventeen-year-old boy and runs through the end of the book, you will note that he had a very difficult life. He was hated by his half-brothers, and they even attempted to eradicate him because they were envious of the close relationship he had with their father Jacob. To make a long story short, he was sold to some merchants who were on their way to Egypt and this is where he found his first promotion. He was in charge of everything in Potiphar’s house with the exception of the ruler’s wife.
With his promotion came pressure. Mrs. Potiphar was likely hungry for intimacy and Joseph was a handsome dude who made her very happy when she looked upon him. So one day as he was in her home (where his office was located), and all the other men were out tending to other business, she tried to get Joseph to lie with her and fulfill her lust. But Joseph was a man of godly integrity and he ran for the door faster than a sugar-high kid in a candy scramble! On his way out, she grabbed his sport coat that had his initials embroidered on it and now she had proof with which to take him down (obviously, I updated the details, but you get my drift).
When Mrs. Potiphar could not get what she wanted, she cried “Rape!” And then, she fabricated a very believable story that her husband would naturally assume was true. As a result, squeaky clean Joseph was thrown into prison—all because he was falsely accused.
We see this kind of stuff happening on an almost daily basis. When a morally upright man runs for office, the women come out of the woodwork to accuse him of some wrongdoing. When a dedicated woman gains influence and makes an impact in the lives of others, people, in their jealousy, attempt to smear her and discontinue her cause. This “Joseph Syndrome” is alive and well and that is why we must be careful to live above reproach.
Why does this kind of thing happen? It is due to the depravity of man and the fact that everyone is born with a sin nature. Mankind is a jealous creature who would take out others in an attempt to elevate himself and further his own selfish goals. Listen, if you have to step on others to get where you are going, God is not in that. If you have to lie about someone else in order to make your name more well-known, you are serving the wrong person—actually two people: self and Satan.
So what is the answer to all this mess?
Do what Joseph did and live a life that is inundated with godly integrity; always do what is right, even if the masses are chartreuse with envy; live above reproach so that when the naysayers rise up against you, you will know without a doubt that you are innocent of whatever claims they throw at you. If you get some time, begin reading in Genesis 37 and take notes on how Joseph responded to those who hated him. By the way, even a young person can live above reproach because both Joseph and Daniel were youths when they began living for the Lord. Live with integrity and leave the results in God’s hands.