GROWING UP (Means Passing Tests You Failed Before) 

We are using Joseph as an excellent example of our need for patience.  We are seeking to learn from the different phases of Joseph’s life.  Let’s get into it. 

(James 1:2-4 TPT) 

2  My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can!  

3  For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up power within you to endure all things.  

4  And then as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking. 

(Ecc 3:1 ERV) 

There is a right time for everything, and everything on earth will happen at the right time. 

Read Genesis 44 

Setting the stage. 

In this message, we will attempt to cover an entire chapter.  Chapter 44 opens with Joseph and his brothers finishing the meal.  It was a spread.  They ate.  They had a great time.  And when the meal was over, Joseph sent his brothers away with plenty of food.  It seemed like the brothers might be getting away without Joseph revealing himself, but had ONE FINAL TEST for his brothers.  He needed to know if they had changed. 

Joseph ordered his brother’s sacks to be filled with as much food as they could carry.  He then told one of his servants to put his personal silver cup into the sack of the youngest brother, Benjamin.  With the plan set, Joseph sent brothers on their way.  Shortly thereafter, he sent his men after them.  Joseph’s men accused the brothers of stealing their master’s cup.  The brothers were so sure that it was a mistake that they said, “If you find that one of us has the cup, then kill him, and the rest of us will become your slaves.”  Joseph’s servant replied, “Good!  I’ll do what you have said.  But only the one who has the cup will become my slave.  The rest of you can go free.”  All the sacks were searched and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 

The brothers were devastated.  Joseph’s team ordered them to load up their donkeys and they returned to the city.  When they arrived at Joseph’s house, Judah said, “Sir, what can we say?  How can we prove we are innocent?  God has shown that we are guilty.  And now all of us are your slaves, especially the one who had the cup.”  Joseph told them, “I would never punish all of you.  Only the one who was caught with the cup will become my slave.  The rest of you are free to go home to your father.”  Wow!  This was the exact same situation they were in 20 years earlier.   

The 10 older brothers now had the opportunity to leave their younger brother as a slave.  The Sultan did not want them, he only wanted Benjamin.  What would they do?  Would they do to Benjamin what they had done to Joseph?  Would they leave their brother and disregard the pain it would cause their father?  Would they operate in selfishness or love?  Remember, love puts others first. 

Judah spoke up for the brothers and explained how much grief it would cause their father if Benjamin were not able to come home.  Jacob had already said that if something happened to Benjamin that he might die of a broken heart.  Judah put his father and Benjamin before himself.  Judah also had his word on the line – he had promised his father that Benjamin would come home safely.  Finally, he said, “Sir, I am your slave.  Please let me stay here in the place of Benjamin and let him return home with his brothers.  How can I face my father if Benjamin isn’t with me? I couldn’t bear to see my father in such sorrow.”  With that, the brothers passed the test.   

So what does this mean for you today?  A few things. 

1.  Maturity should be your goal. 

— This series is about maturing in Christ.  Our foundational scripture (James 1:2-4) gives us a picture of what maturity looks like.  James said, “… as your endurance grows even stronger it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.”  You should want to get to the point where there is nothing missing and nothing lacking in your life. 

— In order to truly mature, you must be willing to be processed to be able to carry the weight of the anointing associated with your divine assignment. 

— Growing older does not automatically equal growing more mature.  It had been 20 years since Joseph last saw his brothers.  He knew they were older.  But what he did not know was if they were more mature.  He wanted to know if they had changed.  He wanted to be sure that they were no longer the angry, hateful, and jealous boys that had no regard for family.  In the end, Joseph saw that they were now loving, caring, and compassionate men who had developed a Godly character.  Can the same be said of you? 

— The fact that you have been walking with God for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years or more, means nothing if you are not growing.  I hope this series is helping you to take self-inventory.   

— Are you growing in faith?  Can you believe God greater than you could in the past?  Is your heart open to believing what God believes about you?   

— Are you growing in patience?  Are you able to hold on long enough to see what God said about you? 

— Are you growing in love?  Is God’s heart on display in your life and living?  Or are you selfish, self-centered, and prideful? 

*** I know a lot of Christians today are focused on getting a big house, driving nice cars, and having nice things.  God is not opposed to any of that.  But don’t mistake those things to be a sign of maturity.  God looks at your heart.  Are you growing?  Are you truly maturing, or are you simply getting older?  Beyond the “stuff”, maturity should be your goal!  You want to get to the point where you have been transformed into God’s image on this planet! 

2.  If you fail a test, God will give you an opportunity to pass it again. 

We all face tests of our growth from time to time.  Think back five, 10, or 20 years.  Did you fail some tests back then — tests of your character and compassion?  Now think about how you would face those same tests today.  Would you pass them or would you still make the same mistakes?  I hope you are able to confidently say that you would not make the same mistakes again.  God is a God of progression.  He is looking for us to progressively get better as we walk with Him! 

— If you did fail those tests back then, you can rest assured that God will give you another chance to pass them.  And if you fail again, He will test you again.  God will keep doing this until you pass and grow.   

— Unlike the system of this world, that will push you forward, just because you are getting older (this world will not allow a 20-year-old to be in 1st grade), God will not promote you to the next level until you make the most of the level you are in.  If you are faithful with little, God will give you much.  But you are not faithful with little, God will give you little again, and again, and again, until you prove that you are ready to move on.  So, the point here is that you must be committed to lifelong learning and growing because God is committed to lifelong testing and proving!   

Closing prayer:  

Father, I know You are a God of progression and not regression.  I progressively move forward in You.  I am committed to lifelong learning and growing.  Every day with You I learn more and am developed more.  I develop Godly character as I experience all You allow, enable and empower me to endure.  I am not the same person I was several years ago.  If I am presented with the tests I have failed in the past, I will produce better results, because I am yielded to You Father, on a greater level.  My success has not come with more TRYING.  My success has come with more DYING!  The more I die, the more You live in me, (hence the alter we learned and I’m the one on the alter being prepared to die). In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

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