Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC
Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God.
The story is told that the first missionaries who came to Alberta, Canada were savagely opposed by a young chief of the Cree Indians named Maskepetoon. However, after hearing the message of the gospel and experiencing the love of those missionaries he confessed Christ as Lord of his life. Shortly afterward, a member of the Blackfoot tribe killed his father. Witnesses say Maskepetoon rode into the village where the murderer lived and demanded that he be brought out. When the guilty man stepped forward, 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 complete shock and remorse the man cried, “My son, now you have killed me!” The hate in his own heart had been completely erased by the forgiveness and kindness of the Indian chief.
Forgiveness is an incredibly powerful thing, and the story of Joseph is arguably the most touching story of forgiveness in the Bible apart from Christ’s forgiveness of us in salvation. In Genesis chapter 45 Joseph is reunited with his brothers and reveals himself to them for the first time in years. We go on in subsequent chapters to read that Joseph provided for his family in special ways and actually turned their curse into a great blessing. Instead of harboring hate and desiring revenge, he chose to forgive and blessed them. We see here that forgiveness releases the offender. Joseph chose not to hold their sins against them. The longer we hold offenders responsible for our emotions and decision making in our own heart, the longer we are slaves to their sinfulness. Why should you and I be enslaved by the sinful actions of others? Secondly, we see here that forgiveness rests in the sovereign plan of God. Joseph acknowledges that what they had done was wrong, but he says it was all part of God’s overarching plan. No matter how deeply you and I have been hurt or offended by someone else, the Lord is still in control. He does cause all things to work together for good (Romans 8:28), and he does desire our future to be filled with hope, peace, love, and joy.
Today, no matter what you’ve been through or who has harmed you….choose forgiveness. Choose to release that person in your heart and rest in the sovereign love of God. Pray for your enemies and bless those who persecute you. Leave judgment and justice in the Lord’s hands. Do it all with the example of Jesus in mind who prayed to the Father while being nailed to the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father God, thank you for forgiving me of my sins. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me and showing me love, grace, and mercy when I don’t deserve it. Oh God, help me show the same kindness and love to others, even those who have hurt me in the past. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”