Giving God All the Credit

Yael Eckstein  |  June 14, 2023

Elderly Jewish woman sitting in doorway with hands together

“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” —Genesis 41:16

As we celebrate the men in our lives this month, enjoy these devotions looking at the defining characteristics of godliness that we can glean from the biblical men of faith—and how we can pass on those values to our children.

“In God we trust.” It says this on every bill of United States currency. For some people this may seem ironic. After all, when people make money from successful investments and good business decisions, do they really attribute their success to God? I would hope so.

But the sad fact is that for many of us, we turn to God only when we’re out of other options. So long as we have a plan or experience a positive outcome, we are far more likely to think that success or failure is in human hands. All too often, we treat God as a last resort.

In Genesis, after interpreting the dreams of the wine steward and the baker who were imprisoned with him, Joseph spent another two years in prison. The Jewish sages teach that this was a punishment for Joseph asking the wine steward to plead with Pharaoh on Joseph’s behalf. The sages explain that Joseph should have relied on God, not the wine steward.

But this is strange. Why shouldn’t Joseph ask for help? Are we supposed to avoid seeking assistance from those who can help us? The answer is that the problem wasn’t with the fact that Joseph asked for help from the wine steward. Joseph was punished because he didn’t pray to God.

Giving God All the Credit

But Joseph learned his lesson. Later, when Pharaoh told Joseph to interpret his dreams, Joseph attributed everything to God. We read, “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” Joseph repeatedly told Pharaoh, “God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do” (vv. 25, 28).

Over and over, Joseph emphasized that God, and not he, had the answers and the plan for Pharaoh. How often do we take credit for the ideas and success that God has bestowed upon us? By giving God all the credit, Joseph taught us what it means to be a true man of faith.

Your Turn:

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Take a moment to thank God for those successes that you most think of as your own.