Three principles, illustrated by Joseph’s life, are true to all time: (1) The only successful way to forget one’s own burdens is to help bear another’s; (2) God makes all things work together for good to those that love him; (3) he alone who improves the small opportunities will not miss the great chances of life.
THE TEMPTATIONS OF SUCCESS.
Modern life, and especially that in America to-day, is full of illustrations of the overwhelming temptations which come to the man who has had great success. Many a man has enjoyed the confidence and respect of his associates until his abilities have won for him large wealth with which apparently comes at times a misleading sense of immunity from the ordinary moral obligations. The result has been that the sterling virtues which have enabled him to win success have been quickly undermined and his public and private acts have become the theme of the public press. Instead of being an honor he has become a disgrace to his nation.
Joseph’s sudden rise to power surpassed anything told in the Arabian Nights’ Tales, and yet he remained the same simple, unaffected man, more thoughtful for another’s interests than for his own. The supreme test came in his contact with his brothers, who had insulted and cruelly wronged him. They were completely at his mercy and he had abundant reason for ignoring the obligations of kinship. Did Joseph hide his cup in Benjamin’s sack and later hold him as a hostage in order to punish his brothers or to test their honor and fidelity? Was this action wise? Did the brothers stand the test?
No class was regarded by the Egyptians with greater scorn and contempt than the shepherds to whom they entrusted their flocks, because the task of herding sheep was regarded as too menial for an Egyptian. The public recognition of his shepherd kinsmen, therefore, revealed in Joseph the noblest and most courageous qualities.
Why is such loyalty a primary obligation? Is it to-day regarded by all thoughtful men as one of the clearest evidences of a strong character? Can you give any modern illustrations, perhaps among your acquaintances? What is a snob? Did Joseph leave undone any act which loyalty to his kinsmen could prompt? Is Joseph’s character as portrayed by the prophetic account practically perfect? Of the three characters, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, which offers more practical suggestions to the man of to-day? Which has exerted the most powerful influence upon the ideals and conduct of the human race?
THE STANDARDS OF REAL SUCCESS.