The Hideous Evil of Pride

“Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he refused . . . One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. ‘Look,’ she said to them, ‘this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.’ . . . When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, ‘This is how your slave treated me,’ he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.”—Genesis 39:6–20 (NIV)

Have you ever heard the expression, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”? It comes from William Congreve’s The Mourning Bride. But if you really think about it . . . I’d say the inspiration comes from Genesis 39!

In today’s passage, we see the sinful wrath of a woman who’d been rejected. To be clear, women aren’t more prone to vengefulness than men. Sinful behaviors have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with pride, a universal human issue and the root cause of all sin!

Think about it: Pride led Adam and Eve to their disobedience, Cain to Abel’s murder, and Joseph’s brothers to selling him into slavery. And here, the hurt pride of Potiphar’s wife led her to falsely accuse Joseph, ruin his reputation, and get him thrown in prison.

Friends, pride is the ugliest thing on earth. Pride deifies self while dehumanizing everyone else. It’s the complete opposite of who God is! How do we know this? Because Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6–8 NIV).

And it’s the opposite of who God created us to be, because we were made in His image and therefore were created to reflect His character, qualities, and nature. Pride is the root perversion of all godliness; it’s “the lamp of the wicked” (Proverbs 21:4 ESV).

Now, if the rightful punishment for Joseph was death, why did Potiphar send him to prison? It’s believed he was lenient because he knew God was with Joseph, and because as MacLaren puts it, “He did not quite believe his wife’s story, and thought it best to hush up a scandal. The transfer of Joseph from the house to the adjoining prison would be quietly managed, and then no more need be said about an ugly business.”

And what about Joseph? Well, he was clothed in humility throughout this entire ordeal! He didn’t let pride lead him to sinning against God, himself, his master, and his master’s wife. Instead, he fled from sin, remained humble and obedient to God, and loyal to the man God had put in authority over him. And even though he was sent to prison, God honored his humility and obedience—he wasn’t put to death and God prospered him and saved many through him!

DIG: What makes pride such a hideous evil in God’s eyes?

DISCOVER: How can you guard yourself against pride?

DO: Today, ask the Lord to reveal areas of pride in your life.

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