Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
I love the biblical account of the life of Joseph. I encourage you to read over the next week about his life and testimony (Genesis 37-50). Joseph was a dreamer. He was born into a family with 12 other brothers who hated him for his dreams. Joseph dreamt he would someday rule over his brothers and they resented him for this, so much so that they sold him into slavery. They left him for dead and wrote him out of their lives, but Joseph didn’t let this stop him. He kept his eyes on the Lord. He ended up in Egypt and walked through some of the darkest trials any person could ever walk through including false arrest, wrongful incarceration, and extreme loneliness. Through all this he continued to trust God and His plan. Eventually the dream God gave him came true. He became the chief administrator of the nation under the direct authority of the Pharaoh, and ruled over his brothers. He also graciously delivered them by providing for them during a terrible famine. He showed them forgiveness and grace when they deserved retribution. Because Joseph kept His eyes and mind on Christ He was able to overcome the incredible struggles he went through. He had a reason to get up in the morning, a purpose beyond the momentary issues of life.
In his story we see the power of forgiveness. First of all, forgiveness provides perspective. Joseph was able to look past the offense done to him by his brothers to the sovereign hand of God. He said that what they meant for evil, God used for His own good purpose. Our incredible God has the power to take injustice done to us and turn it into glory for His holy name. Only an unshakable all powerful benevolent God could do that! Bitterness causes us to stay in a place of pride and anger, whereas, forgiveness is what releases us to see the majestic plan of God in everything. Don’t ever give the Devil credit for your pain, that’s an authority that’s above his pay grade! Give God the glory in your struggle!
Second, forgiveness seeks reconciliation. True forgiveness expresses itself in a willingness to reconcile with those who hurt us. When Joseph’s brothers became aware of how they had hurt their brother they acknowledged their sin, and Joseph was quick to forgive. As a result, the relationship was restored. In fact, he went so far as to say he would personally ensure they and their children were provided for in the kingdom. Only Jesus in us gives us the ability to restore a relationship that was once broken. In fact, that’s exactly what He did by dying for our sins on the cross! He reconciled us to God. The cross has two beams, vertical and horizontal, and it’s that example of the cross that motivates us to reconcile with others.
When the first missionaries came to Alberta, Canada, they were savagely opposed by a young chief of the Cree Indians named Maskepetoon. But he responded to the gospel and accepted Christ. Shortly afterward, a member of the Blackfoot tribe killed his father. Maskepetoon rode into the village where the murderer lived and demanded that he be brought before him. Confronting the guilty man, he said, “You have killed my father, so now you must be my father. You shall ride my best horse and wear my best clothes.” In utter amazement and remorse his enemy exclaimed, “My son, now you have killed me!” He meant, of course, that the hate in his own heart had been completely erased by the forgiveness and kindness of the Indian chief.
Forgiveness has the power to transform those who are the recipients of it. Today, has someone hurt you? Have you been wronged? Has there been an injustice done to you? Choose forgiveness, and the transforming power of Jesus will cleanse your soul and transform those who hurt you.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father God, forgiveness is hard. Lord, I am not capable on my own of forgiving those who have come against me. However, when I think about all you have forgiven me of, I am humbled Lord. Thank you for your incredible forgiveness, and help me Lord to show that same forgiveness to others. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You