In this evening’s bible study we were covering the story of Joseph’s life. The primary takeaway was God’s ability to use the faithful servant with the forgiving heart. Upon the completion of the study, I was certain that I had addressed this topic in the context of these passages previously, so I searched. It took me a bit to find it, but today is a revisiting of the post (with minor revision) from March 20th, 2018.
‘As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. ‘ Genesis 50:20-21
For the past few weeks, there has been a consistently repeating theme being brought to my attention. I’ve listened to a number of sermons, from various pastors, read a number of articles and devotions, and had a good many conversations all centered around forgiveness. This past Sunday, Pastor Jon Duey sermonized on the subject in a way that virtually mirrored a sermon I’d heard on the radio 4 days earlier. I might be a bit obtuse sometimes, so God had to make it abundantly, stubbornly clear that I need to give some serious attention to this matter.
The thing about forgiveness is, everyone wants to be forgiven the things we do wrong to others, in some instances almost demand it as a right. However, most are not so generous in extending forgiveness for wrongs committed us. We justify its withholding with thoughts of, “well, I’ve never done anything like that. It’s too much. I didn’t deserve that, so they certainly don’t deserve my forgiveness. If they would just apologize, then maybe I might see my way clear to extend them some grace. Until then…” To forgive or not to forgive, that is the question.
As I have thought about forgiveness, the desire to receive it and the need to extend it, I couldn’t help but think about the story of Joseph. In Genesis 50:20,21 we are witness to the reunion of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph was cast into a well, by his brothers, after they had contemplated killing him. They then decided to sell him into slavery instead. Joseph went on to work his way up the chain of command within the Egyptian kingdom, until he attained the position of pharaoh’s second in command. It was because of his position and authority he was able to protect and save the lives of thousands through a time of disastrous drought and famine. When Joseph was finally reunited with his brothers, they expected the worst. They expected condemnation, vengeance and death at the hands of Joseph. Instead they were met with joy, grace, immeasurable love and, yes, forgiveness. Joseph forgave and loved on his brothers, the very ones who had desired his death and sold him into bondage. Most people would say that Joseph would have been justified in wrath and retribution, but he had only forgiveness and love in his heart.
It’s hard to say, exactly, why bad things happen and are done to people. It’s difficult to let go of it when it comes your way. But, to forgive is a choice we will all have to decide upon for all of our life. To forgive is as much for our benefit as it is to the benefit of the recipient. It grants freedom to the giver as much or more as the recipient. God blesses and uses those with a forgiving heart.
Jesus hung from the cross in order to lift the burden of our sin, with love and forgiveness. While hanging there, to the bittersweet end, forgiveness filled His heart and fell from His lips. “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” Have a blessed weekend.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy