Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 40:1-4

1 And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. 

2 And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.

3 And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.

4 And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.

I never noticed before that the two men Pharaoh consigned to prison were not just “a butler” or “a baker,” they were “the chief of the butlers” and “the chief of the bakers.” These men were not mere servants, they were officers, overseers of a band of workers, responsible for entire sectors of the royal household. It might even be that it was not these two men who offended the Pharaoh, but some of their subordinates, and they were being held responsible for not managing them better.

These men’s higher station might also explain why in verse four it says Joseph “served them.” It would seem that even in prison they retained a more exalted state than the rest of the prisoners. In the last chapter it sounded as though Joseph was an overseer of the other prisoners, but when the captain of the guard needed someone trustworthy to be a servant, Joseph was the one to fill that role as well.

This, of course, reminds me of the example of the Savior, who taught his disciples the idea of a servant-leader. Though he was the undisputed head of his followers, Jesus also washed their feet. This combination of roles requires one to have great capability and power, but also great humility and care. As we will see in the following verses, Joseph did indeed show great care to these men, concerning himself with their trouble and helping them with it as best he could.

The fact that Joseph was in a position of service to these men might also explain why the butler failed to remember him after he was restored to Pharaoh’s house. Perhaps in the pride of his lofty station he failed to give the proper space in his mind for the plea of his lowly servant Joseph.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 39:5-6

5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.

6 And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.

I don’t know much about the structure of servants in an ancient Egyptian household, but I think it seems incredible that a youth of seventeen years, brought in as a slave from a foreign land, would climb to overseer in Potiphar’s house. We do not know how exactly what length of time transpired before Potiphar trusted Joseph completely, but I imagine the process was expedited by the fact that Joseph’s works prospered beyond normal human capability, due to the intervention of the Lord.

In any case, eventually Potiphar depended so fully on Joseph that he did not even know what his own belongings were. He put it all under Joseph’s hand and trusted that the young man would not cheat him. All that remained for Potiphar was to reap the blessings of it, the bread that was served to his table.

But there is a difference between being the man that the Lord blesses and being the man who profits from the blessed one. Potiphar is in the same situation as Laban, who similarly reaped the reward of having a man of God, Jacob, under his employ. But also like Laban, Potiphar will not keep his good-luck-charm forever. He will have God’s blessing upon his household only as long as Joseph is present. Joseph, on the other hand, will keep the providence of the Lord wherever he goes.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 24:63-65, 67

63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.

64 And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.

65 For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself.

67 And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

This story is a metaphor for the work of bringing souls to Christ. Consider the final exchange between Rebekah and the servant.

“What man is this?”

“It is my master.”

First Rebekah was converted to the idea of joining herself to Isaac by the servant. Then she was shown the road to reach him, and when they arrived the servant introduced her. Finally, the servant exited the story, leaving Rebekah to his master’s care. Is that not the same as bringing souls to Christ? We preach of him, we lead those that are willing to his presence, we introduce them to the master, and we leave them in his care.

And for his part, Isaac is comforted by Rebekah’s presence. He loves her and he will be devoted to her, just as our Savior loves and is devoted to us.

The Epic Life- Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28, John 14:2

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

COMMENTARY

Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will. For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.
Tied in with our desire for a life that is epic and meaningful is a desire for a life that is independent. We want to be an agent unto ourselves, not to be someone else’s pawn. And to be clear, freely electing to be a servant to my God is not at all the same as being some manually-controlled pawn. I can choose to be a servant and still retain my individuality.
And as we see in this verse, God’s intent is for us to have that independence. He wants us to freely choose many good works for ourselves. Our deepest spiritual joy does not come from sitting back and just idly thinking about God, it comes from receiving a charter and giving our all to to fulfill it!

In my Father’s house are many mansions
The world would try to convince us that being God’s servant is restrictive, destroys individuality, and turns us all into identical robots. But nothing could be further from the truth. There are many mansions in heaven, many different domains of good, many paths within His garden. The ways to champion God’s will are legion, and He intends for us to freely choose our own corner of the field to work in. Thus my great adventure of good works is very distinct and unique from your own, but both of them are still good. And when we find the good path that uniquely calls to us and give ourselves to it with all the power we have, then we find ourselves walking the truly epic life.

Worthy Vessels- Exodus 4:10-12, Ether 12:27

And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?
Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

COMMENTARY

Who hath made man’s mouth? have not I the Lord?
Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth.
We have considered how being the Lord’s vessel requires us to not be proud, and to not take our own counsel over His. But we can also take things too far the other way. We must not let our doubt of self prevent us from doing His work either.
God was the one that made Moses’s mouth weak in the first place, so surely he could also make it strong when the time called for it. It is a hard thing for clay to change its own shape, but effortless for the potter to mold it into what it needs to be.

I give unto men weakness that they may be humble
If they humble themselves, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong
And Moses having been fashioned first with a slow mouth was probably not a coincidence. God wants us to learn that He makes the man, not that the man makes himself. And to teach us this lesson He often holds something back, something which He is willing to give if we come to Him in humility and ask for it.
So never mind the fact that you have a weakness, go to the source of strength and boldly commit to be His vessel, even in the things you feel inadequate to do. That means taking a leap of faith, and it is unquestionably a scary thing to do!…But only then, while still mid-flight, do you get to feel the touch of the Master’s hand. It is remaking you.

Service to Others- John 13:4-8, 12-17

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

COMMENTARY

If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
He who is a master has great freedom, that is obvious. Once again, the scriptures here are stressing that we are intended to use that freedom to serve others. The more power one has, the more they are expected to use that power for the good of others.
The thing about being a master, though, is that there isn’t anyone else to subject you to service, you have to submit to it by your own volition. True service is something that can only be imposed on the self by the self.
Most churches that I know of teach their parishioners to performs acts of service, but rarely prescribe exactly in what way or to what extent. I believe this is extremely appropriate, as otherwise it would start to feel like compelling people. After all, who made Jesus wash his disciples’ feet but himself?

Service to Others- Moses 7:32-33, Galatians 5:13-14

The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;
And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood.

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

COMMENTARY

They are the workmanship of mine own hands…and also gave commandment, that they should love one another
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

These verses suggest that our selfish indulgences are misappropriations of the freedom God gives us. All people at all times have been given an inherent freedom in the form of being able to choose for themselves. Yet that freedom was give to us for a purpose, there is a reason to our liberty.
That reason, it would appear, is to “love one another” and by that love “serve one another.” In other words, because we are free we can then bind ourselves to whatever we choose. God’s hope is that we will choose to bind ourselves to Him and to our fellowman. Unfortunately, we all too often bind ourselves back to our own selves instead. We consider our own pleasure before all else, and resort to serving others only when we have something to gain by it.
I am supposed to be free and then make myself a servant to others, not make myself a slave to my appetites. So long as I fail to fit this part of my creation, I will feel incomplete. A hole inside that no amount of self-indulgence can ever fill. It is only in the giving of myself that I can ever find the full me.