Today is the day! The Dinner Party Challenge conclusion is finally here. I’ve enjoyed learning more about people from the Bible, and I hope that those of you who participated had an incredible experience as well!
For anyone who is unfamiliar with The Dinner Party Challenge, you can read the original post here. The three people that I “invited” were Joseph (from Genesis), Martha, and Paul; and I never would have expected to learn what I have.
As I read Joseph’s story more deeply, I learned that I had always overlooked a remarkable verse. This verse is between his first and last encounters with Potiphar’s wife as she asked him to commit adultery with her.
Genesis 39:10 says this: “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.”
Joseph resisted the temptation that Potiphar’s wife undoubtedly threw in his face, serving as a wonderful example to believers who face different temptations in their lives. However, Joseph went one step further: “he refused to even be with her.”
Joseph was a slave in Potiphar’s household, so there were no “at-will employment” papers that Potiphar’s HR Department had him sign on his first day of work. Joseph couldn’t flee without the consequence of severe punishment.
So what did he do?
He didn’t allow himself to be put in situations were temptation could occur. Not only did he resist temptation when he was forced to interact with her, but he did whatever he could to avoid being near her.
As Christians, resisting temptation isn’t enough. We must remove ourselves from situations that, although may not be bad in themselves, can open the door for temptation to occur.
Growing up, I knew the story of Mary and Martha when Jesus came to visit them. I even drew a picture of the scene in glitter crayons when I was in 1st grade. Yet, I’ve never found myself shaking my head in disapproval at Martha — I have always related to her, even from a young age.
As a business major with a competitive personality, I’m goal-driven and want to get my tasks accomplished as effectively as possible. I had always viewed the occasion with Martha and Jesus as a “stop-being-so-uptight-about-work-and-focus-on-Jesus” message.
But as I re-read Martha’s life story, this particular interaction with Jesus stood out to me. Although this story can implicate any sort of work that distracts from God, it really refers to work that we do for God that can distract us.
With my business-minded personality and my passion for hospitality, event planning, serving, and faith, it’s easy for me to get off-track with the intention behind my actions. I become so focused on honoring God that I sometimes forget the purpose of what I’m doing, distracted by the busyness of the tasks I must accomplish.
That’s why I relate to Martha more than ever. Although we both have a desire to serve God, it’s easy to lose track of the purpose of our actions.
As I read about Paul, primarily in the book of Acts, I came across two major themes:
First, Paul’s personality didn’t change when he became a Christian. Although his character and heart changed once he accepted Christ as his savior, the elements of his personality remained — they were redirected to further God’s kingdom.
- His determination to persecute Christians across the region transformed into a determination to travel the world in order to share the Good News.
- His intelligence and education of Jewish texts as a Pharisee transformed him into an intelligent and educated man who could effectively communicate the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies through Christ.
- His cunningness used to hunt down Christians in hiding transformed into a cunningness that spared him from dangerous situations so that he could continue to share the Gospel (see Acts 21:27-40 and Acts 22:22-29)
Second, Paul did not let his past define him. If I had been alive during the formation of the early church, I would not have wanted to encounter Paul. A Pharisee who was bold and determined, Paul had a hatred for Christians that was unmatched. Yet, this man became one of God’s key instruments in helping spread the Gospel across the world.
Throughout the book of Acts, Paul gives his testimony on different occasions (such as in Acts chapters 22 and 26), admitting to his severe persecution of Christians. But God was using Paul to do incredible things to further his kingdom, despite what he had done in the past.
As Christians, God can use us for His purposes! Like my post, A new hope, states, we don’t have to live in the guilt and the shame of our past. However, God calls us to not remain in these sins; He calls us to use the gifts and talents He has blessed us with to bring Him glory.
Regardless of who you may choose to read about in the Bible, there is always something new to learn. I encourage all of you, myself included, to keep digging in to God’s Word and be receptive to what He has to teach us. We’ll be surprised at what we learn.