Foreign Relations

by Carolyn Hope

When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, which brought honor to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. … When she met with Solomon, she talked with him about everything she had on her mind. Solomon had answers for all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. … Then she gave the king a gift of 9,000 pounds of gold, great quantities of spices, and precious jewels. … King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba whatever she asked for, besides all the customary gifts he had so generously given. Then she and all her attendants returned to their own land. (1 Kings 10:1-3, 10, 13)

Solomon’s reputation and renown were worldwide. The queen of Sheba heard of his greatness, and I imagine she was skeptical. She came to test him, to see if what was spoken of Solomon was really true. He was able to answer every question and meet every issue she proposed.

What I’d like to focus on in this encounter is the peaceful generosity of both parties. There are many examples of wars and hostility among the nations, both in Scripture and in history. Here we find an interaction that was peaceful and kind. The queen of Sheba gave to Solomon; Solomon gave to her; and back and forth they went. Both powers left the exchange satisfied and blessed. They were better off than when they started, for they were both generous and willing to share not only riches but knowledge and experiences as well.

This is a great picture for us in how we should interact internationally. When encountering people radically different than yourself, choose to be kind. Choose to be generous. Share yourself with them, be gracious to them, and give. Be open and receptive to their questions and queries. Listen to others’ honesty without being offended. As we learn to be mutually kind and open ourselves up to each other, we’ll find a wealth greater than anything we’ve ever known. There’s a beauty in sharing our lives with others and a joy in hearing of theirs. Don’t be afraid to give yourself away; you won’t leave empty or dissatisfied.

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The Slave

by Carolyn Hope

When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. The LORD was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that the LORD was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. (Genesis 39:1-4)

Joseph went from being the favorite son to a slave in a matter of minutes. That sounds like a rude awakening, doesn’t it? Interestingly, the Bible doesn’t give us a picture of a learning curve for Joseph. The first description we are given about Joseph’s life as a slave is that God was with him and he was successful. What should have been a disastrous situation instead became a place of favor and blessing.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I would have adjusted well to being taken captive and then forced to work for a foreign people in a foreign nation. It’s remarkable to me that there is no record of Joseph having a pity party, trying to run away, or resenting his master. Rather, we are given an example of a slave who honored others and served them without complaint. Though estranged from his family and far from all that was familiar, Joseph didn’t lose the Lord, nor did His favor leave him. God ensured that success followed Joseph wherever he went and blessed whatever he did.

When you find yourself in an uncomfortable, undeserved situation, you don’t have to live defeated. When nothing seems familiar, remember the One who never forsakes you. Jesus is ever with you, and He will enable you to not only make it through a season, but also to grow and thrive in it. If you will commit yourself to serve, regardless of where you are, you’ll find that God will meet you there. He delights in simple service. You are not called to slavery, for you have been made free in Christ, but you are called to serve. Take courage, remain humble, and trust your Guide. He won’t ever lead you astray. Even if it’s painful now, be strengthened by the truth that there is purpose in this path you’re on. His plans for you are good, and you have no need to fear.

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