There is a verse in Genesis 50, where Joseph is addressing his brothers, and he says: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
I cannot possibly imagine what went through Joseph’s mind when his brothers showed up. We are given some insights as the story goes on as to his emotional state, but not so much in Genesis 42 when his brothers first appear before him. One thing that I am certain of, because of Genesis 50, Joseph had found it within his heart to fully, completely and utterly forgive his brothers for their murderous hearts and treacherous actions.
As we’ve been reading Genesis, I have been amazed on a number of occasions at the the level of forgiveness shown. Jacob and Esau are another prime example. As I mentioned in an previous post, I have seen family feuds in action, feuds that started so long ago that the family members involved aren’t even sure what they’re upset about anymore. But rest assured, they are definitely still upset. I’ve seen the same thing in churches, which is just another family really. People who go to the same church, who worship the same God, who care for the same community, yet they WILL NOT cross the sanctuary to speak to one another. It grieves our Father in Heaven and I can’t figure out how Christian people think it is alright to remain in that place of unforgiveness. It blatantly goes against scripture.
Think for a moment of what Joseph’s brothers did to him. Think for a moment about the level of animosity they showed, the complete disregard for his life, for his care, for his connection to them as their brother. Think of everything Joseph went through. Being sold into slavery in ancient Egypt was one of the worst living punishments anyone could undergo. Slaves were not people. They were things. No rights. No law. No protection. Killed on a whim, beaten for entertainment, sold for a new camel or donkey. And yet Joseph forgave his brothers completely. It takes more guts, more heart and more character to forgive than to hold a grudge. Holding a grudge is easy, but rest assured my friends it will devour you from the inside. It will grow to consume your waking thoughts and your sleeping dreams. Ulcers will form, anxiety will set in, and you will be the one held hostage, not the person you are holding the grudge against.
William Arthur Ward wrote: “A life lived without forgiveness is a prison.” The sad part is, so many of us erect the walls, seal in the bars and lock the doors all by ourselves.
Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” True, Paul is speaking specifically of the issue of circumcision in these verses, I’m not trying to ignore the context. But this truth applies to all things in which we are tempted to shackle ourselves, including holding grudges and refusing to forgive.
For me, the most powerful picture in Joseph’s story happens tomorrow.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Genesis 43-45