I was gifted this book at Christmas time. My oldest brother gave it to me. To this day, I’m still not sure if it was meant to get me thinking or if he just wanted to temper my hopes and dreams. The title of the book is this: The Millionaire Fastlane – Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime. It’s written by a fella named MJ Demarco – a guy who literally went from living paycheck to paycheck to a self-made millionaire. It is a good read if you’re interested in finance type things. However, as I read this book, I ultimately came away with one great big “Aha!” moment and that is that I realized that all the greatest ways to make wealth, to be a millionaire, really don’t start with the profession of pastor.
Now, that’s fine, I knew that, and I still gleaned some interesting points from this book. One in particular I’d like to share with you today. You see, Mr. Demarco understood that the choices we make early on in life can change…everything. And so, he came up with an acronym, and I know we here at CTL love our acronyms. Here was his: WCCA. It stands for Worst Case Consequence Analysis. It’s a mouthful but it’s simpler than it sounds.
This “Worst Case Consequence Analysis” was what Mr. Demarco used to make decisions in life and it can be broken down into three questions. Question one. What is the worst-case consequence of a choice you are about to make? For instance, you decide to race somebody on a busy street in your car. What is the worst thing that could happen? You could die. Okay. Question two. What is the probability of this outcome? – stick with street racing – Well, I’ve never raced a car before in my life, so the probability of me getting in an accident and dying is x %. This isn’t looking good so far. Question three then. Is this an acceptable risk? Is my potential death worth a few minutes of adrenaline racing down a street? No. That is WCCA the “Worst Case Consequence Analysis.” Why am I sharing this with you today? Because today we find Joseph using WCCA thousands of years before Mr. Demarco put in a book.
Here is Joseph, we all know him, he had some family issues. The second youngest of 12 brothers. At least ten of those brothers didn’t like him. They were jealous that their father, Jacob, favored Joseph, and so one day they threw him into a cistern and told dad that a ferocious animal devoured him – not exactly a loving family. Those same brothers later pulled Joseph out of that cistern only to sell him to some slave traders passing by. And that brings us here in chapter 39 of Genesis where Joseph, now a slave, was serving in the household of an Egyptian official named Potiphar.
It’s here that Joseph, though a slave, maybe thought things were on the up and up. We’re told earlier in the chapter that the “Lord was with Joseph” and he became head of Potiphar’s household, second only to his master. But then we get into the verse of our lesson and we find a problem, another issue. Potiphar’s wife lusted after Joseph, “Come to bed with me!” She said to him. And this desire, this request, happened daily.
You think about that, poor Joseph, blessed by the Lord, had risen to a position of authority in this home, but now he daily had to endure this conflict of interest that involved Potiphar’s wife, and this meant he would need to make some tough choices and, in a way, apply WCCA. Now, we can’t read Joseph’s thoughts, but we have his words and his actions recorded for us. So, what was the worst-case consequence of Joseph giving in to the command to “Come to bed with me!” One could conclude that it would cost Joseph his position in the house and, since he was a slave, also might cost him his life. But where does Joseph go, what was his worst-case consequence? – The end of verse nine – “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” Joseph’s chief concern was the sin that he would commit.
Joseph knew the Lord, he likely heard stories from his father Jacob about the wrestling match he had with God before he was born and how God popped his hip out. So, Joseph also knew what sin looked like and the probability of going to bed with this woman who was not his wife was 100% a sin. Was this an acceptable risk to Joseph? No. We are told that Joseph “refused” the advances of his master’s wife. Here is my question, was it worth it?
Because look what happened. Joseph’s good and right avoidance of temptation and sin didn’t win over Potiphar’s wife – Oh sorry Joseph what was I thinking. It made her angry. So, she lied. She told her husband, “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me.” And look where Joseph ended up, in prison. Did he perform a bad “Worst Case Consequence Analysis?” I mean what did he do wrong? What was his crime? He refused to sin. He refused to give into an adulteress woman’s demand and, as he sat there in prison, one might wonder if he regretted that choice.
I don’t think he did though. That’s the lesson we learn here. That it is worth it. It is worth it to say “no” to sin. Because the Worst Case Consequence Analysis that we as Christians use has a timeline that looks past this life. Like Joseph, we’re playing for eternity. Joseph knew only of the Savior to come. We know of the Savior who was and is to come again. Jesus saw our WCCA and for each of us it ended in us being 100% separated from him, and the risk of him losing us wasn’t one he was going to allow. So he stepped in, into this world and he took that consequence, our sin, and he bore it knowing the cost, agony, pain, his own life. It was worth it to him. Isn’t that something? You are worth it to Christ.
And so now Jesus’ words in our gospel lesson become clear, they become real, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” This is what we are, who we are, we are Christians. We bear the name of Christ and that makes us different on this earth. I might want to give into the sinful lifestyles that are so easily accessible around me. I might want to avoid the ridicule of being known as that person who goes to church each Sunday. I might wish that people didn’t mock my beliefs, my prayers, in the TV shows I watch and, in the magazines, and books that I read. And I might agonize over the misconception that somehow my belief of sin and grace are really excuses for me to hate and exclude. But I refuse, with Joseph I refuse to give into the sin that the world demands that I accept because I’ve done my own Worst Case Consequence Analysis of this world and what it has to offer me and it’s not worth it. Nothing here on this planet is worth losing what I know I have in Christ.
Look again at Joseph. See him there sitting in prison. He lost everything – again! – but what didn’t he lose. We see it twice right at the end of our lesson, such comforting words, “But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him.” In yet another low point in life, God was there with Joseph. May we never forget that simple truth. The Lord is with us. He is with you. So often in persecution, animosity, the doubt of sin, and other seeming hardships, we might think the opposite is true, and why is that? Because we’re told and led to believe that a good God will give us a good life. It’s a good lie, but the truth lies here with Joseph, the truth that the life of a believer will be one of challenges, persecution, and hardship.
That doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you. It doesn’t mean he is not with you, in fact, in those moments he is closer than you think. Because each trial we face, each cross we bear, allows us to work through our WCCA. It’s a chance for us to see the risks and pitfalls of sin and then to remember that this isn’t it. This isn’t for me. God, in Christ promised me something better, no not here, but there, a reward a place where he won’t just be with me, but I will be with him. That’s heaven.
You know sometimes I wonder if we talk about heaven enough. I wonder if we lose that focus, busied by the things of this world. Let’s refocus for a moment. Let’s picture the reward that we have through Jesus. The reward that Joseph is now enjoying, that Moses is enjoying, and all those people whom endured who said, “Yes, this, my faith, my Savior, are worth it. They are worth any persecution, any hardship that this world may throw at me.” Let’s think of what it will be like to join them and others whom we know. Aaaah! Won’t that be great!
It will be great, and that is your reality. Won for you in Christ. And until you get there, until you take that first step into eternal glory, the Lord is with you. The cross Jesus bore, your cross, tells you this is true. God came to you at your worst, when you were his enemy, and he brought you peace. He made you his own, and one day he will want to bring you home.
That brings me back to this book my brother gave me at Christmas. It was all about the fast lane to earthly wealth. Having read it I’ve come to the honest and somewhat sad realization that I will likely never be a millionaire. But I’ve been reading another book; I know you’ve read from it too. It’s a little older, but it’s a classic, a bestseller. In that book of books, the Bible, we see a God who has been with his people since the beginning, and now, today, he is with you too. He offers you wealth beyond compare and an eternal life that will be breathtaking. Take it all in, it’s yours. Amen.