I have found Psalm 1 to be a guiding principle in my life and ministry; it speaks to my theology and character as a pastor. In Psalm 1, we learn that God wants to bless us and to make us fruitful, but it is up to us to make choices that will lead us to God’s blessings. By choosing the ways of God and by living according to God’s wisdom and teaching, we bear fruit – blessings that give us joy, peace, and fulfillment even despite bad seasons in our lives. In Psalm 1, we learn that “delighting” in God is about staying in love with God, which leads us fruitfulness. Another lesson for us is how faithfulness leads us to fruitfulness as well.
For this, there is a story in the Hebrew Scriptures about a person who went through plenty of trials, dealing with many obstacles and enemies. Yet, over time, he overcame all of them and experienced abundant fruitfulness – because of his faithfulness to God. This is the story of Joseph, one of the most known characters in the Bible. Many movies have been made about him; even if you have never read the Bible, you probably still have heard about him as “Joseph the Dreamer.”
Who was this Joseph? Joseph was the eleventh of twelve sons born from Jacob. His story is told in Genesis 37-50. Joseph’s life was immensely fruitful. He lived in Egypt where Pharaoh, “made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed, to instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom” (Psalm 105:21–22). And because of his faithfulness, his people became very prosperous.
But that is the second part of Joseph’s story. The first part is a dark one.
In the early days, it did not seem like his life would amount to anything. When he was a young man, he was sold as a slave by his brothers out of jealousy, and they lied to their father, telling him a wild beast had killed him. As a slave, Joseph was taken to Egypt, where he was sold to an army officer. There, the army officer’s wife who owned him tried to seduce him, and when he refused, she accused him of attempted rape. That led him to prison. He suffered great injustice.
While he was in prison, he befriended the Pharaoh’s butler by interpreting a bothersome dream. In return, the butler promised to put in a good word for him with the Pharaoh. But as soon as the butler was out of prison, he forgot all about his promise. For two long years, the butler failed to keep his promise, while Joseph remained in prison.
As you can see, Joseph went through betrayal, slavery, temptation, imprisonment, and plenty of injustice and suffering. Yet in all this, he remained faithful. He never lost his trust in God in a lifetime filled with extraordinary trials, obstacles, and enemies (Genesis 45:5–8; 50:20).
And that is why we have the second part of this story. After all these dark times, he became the second most powerful man in Egypt, only after Pharoah. In short, against all odds and many trials, Joseph’s faith, character, and wisdom promoted him to the highest place in all Egypt, where God used him to be a blessing to many.
How is that for fruitfulness?
This is an amazing, powerful, and inspiring story, and I believe we can relate to it in many ways. I am certain that each one of you has had moments when things went sideways, and you wondered where God was. I am certain that sometimes those sour seasons have lasted longer than you wanted them to. I am certain that at some point, you were also tempted not to care anymore. Yet, I am also certain that you have made it through each one of those chapters of your life.
How do I know that? Because you are still here: stronger, wiser, and more determined to do what God wants you to do. But we need to be reminded of this hope now and then – the hope that we are God’s people, that God is with us, and that God wants to bless us and help us overcome our challenges.
This is true for us as a church and as people, as individuals. I know it is true for me. I have been there, facing all kinds of challenges but also experiencing victory over them.
Do you know who also has a story like Joseph’s? Someone my church members know, Mr. Zach Batiste. I met Mr. Batiste last week and visited with him. Let me tell you, he can talk, and he is a blessing, a dear man who loves God and has endured and overcome so much. Mr. Batiste is a blessing because he is faithful. In many ways, his is a story of faithfulness like Joseph’s, because he has endured and loved God against many odds.
My friends, I have seen how faithfulness leads us to contentment, peace, and fruitfulness. I know it to be a true and tangible promise: fruitfulness comes from faithfulness to God. That is the miracle in Joseph’s story; despite all the trials, he was miraculously fruitful and successful because he remained faithful—even when no one was watching and when he had every reason and excuse not to care anymore, to give up.
Now, let me ask you: how many times have you been in that spot? “I can’t do it.” “It is too much.” “This isn’t fair.” “No one cares.” “No one wants me.” You know what I am talking about. Life has highs and lows, and sometimes we struggle to get through it.
But today, I want to encourage you to believe and not give up, to trust that you can overcome everything with God. Stories like Joseph and Mr. Batiste are here to remind us that we can. Even when everything may seem against us, we will overcome because God wants for us far beyond anything we can imagine.
With this in mind, here comes the invitation and challenge: we must remain faithful to see this through.
Consider this. In John 15, Jesus gave one of his last teachings to his disciples before being arrested, tried, and crucified. He told them, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Here, Jesus taught them (and us) that fruitfulness is directly linked to our relationship and union with him. It is out of the fruit of relational intimacy with Christ that other vital aspects of fruitfulness in discipleship flows. He explained this by using the analogy of the vine; he is the true sprouting vine, and only by abiding in him we can have life and be fruitful.
One of the keys here is the word “abiding.” To me, that word sounds a lot like faithfulness. Abiding, or being faithful, translates as our commitment to God to keep and practice the teachings and ways of Jesus, whether we have an audience or not, regardless of our situation or circumstance.
This is where it can get challenging for us: being faithful encompasses diligence, diligence in faithfully keeping and carrying out those things God has called us to do through Jesus Christ. This part is critical to everything I have said, because this fruitfulness consists of Christlike character and conduct. Your blessings more likely will not come as a result of a supernatural event but as a consequence of your actions and choices.
For example, if you are honest as Jesus is honest, you may be entrusted with more responsibilities. If you are compassionate as Jesus is compassionate, you may develop loving and lasting relationships with others. If people see the way we love and care for each other as a church, they are going to come. Being faithful is not a contemplative act but a proactive attitude: determination and discernment to do what is right, what is kind, and what is loving.
To finish, I want to tell you this: you are not done yet. No matter how old you are or what has happened in your life, you are here, there is life, there is a purpose for you, and there is still a lot of fruit to bear. You are not done yet. Joseph did not give up when he was betrayed and imprisoned unjustly. Mr. Batiste did not give up when many things did not go as he would have wanted them to. With this in mind, I invite you today once again: don’t give up, keep on doing the right thing. Don’t get tired of practicing kindness.
Be diligent in being faithful, and let God make you and our church fruitful.