“And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?”
Several years ago, a parent came to me and asked me my thoughts about their grown child moving and going to a certain church. As I always do, I did a little research on the church and realized that the church was not like the family to whom I was talking. I told that parent that if they didn’t want their child to change, they would be wise to advise them not to move or go to that church. Sadly, they didn’t listen, and today their child has changed because you can’t go to a place that believes differently and not change.
When Joseph was advising his father and his brethren about how to talk to Pharaoh, he revealed how his heart had changed. Joseph was certainly a good man, and he was a man of faith, but he had changed from how he was raised. Joseph had become a pacifist who was ashamed of his heritage. He told his father and his brethren that when Pharaoh asked them about their occupation, they were to say that they were about cattle and not shepherds because shepherds were an “abomination unto the Egyptians.” Though Joseph meant well, he was wrong because he was not to hide who they were, but they were to embrace it because that is who God made them to be.
The “occupation” in the verse above is more about your heritage than it is the job where you work. God is teaching a valuable lesson that you are never to hide who you are as a believer. Whether or not you like it, some believers are not like you as an independent Baptist. Does this make you better than them? No, but the heritage you have been given is not something that you should shy away from but embrace because God has given such a good heritage.
What was it that caused Joseph to shy away from his heritage? The answer to this question is that he had lived in Egypt for so long that the Egyptian heritage had influenced him. He had lived in Egypt so long that he was more concerned with what the Egyptians thought of him more than he was concerned with what God thought of him. Though Joseph was a good man who had gone through much heartache, and though much of his existence was beyond his control, the fact that the Egyptian culture had influenced him away from who he was as an Israelite cannot be overlooked.
My friend, the atmosphere that you allow yourself to be exposed to does influence you and your thinking. You cannot live in the world’s atmosphere and not expect it to influence your positions and viewpoints. One reason that God commands the believer to come out of the world is because He doesn’t want the world to influence the mind of the believer. You can’t help but live in the world, but you don’t have to be of the world. You may have to work in the world, but you don’t have to run with the world. The atmosphere you allow yourself to be in will influence you and your thinking.
Moreover, you can’t run with the wrong crowd and it not influence your thinking. There are those many believers who are not like you, nor do they think like you; beware of running with them because you will become like them. You can’t read books authored by liberal believers without their thinking influencing you and souring you to your heritage. If you are going to carry on the heritage that you were given, you must guard your influences carefully so that they don’t cause you to run from your heritage.