(Genesis 50:19-21 ESV) “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.”
Most Christians are fully aware of the story of Joseph. Sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely imprisoned, forgotten by those he had helped; Joseph’s life had been made difficult primarily by other people. It would have been easy for him to allow a root of bitterness to develop in his soul. It’s one thing to be a victim of a single offense, but it is very hard to offer forgiveness when the offenses are stacked on top of each other. Such was the life of Joseph.
To his credit, Joseph was able to find a way to forgive, not once, but continually. In the case of his brothers, they were probably the ones responsible for his deepest pain. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to forgive family members who had inflicted such heinous abuse on multiple occasions?
In our passage of Scripture today, Joseph has to reassure his brothers of his commitment to “forever forgiveness.” Their father Jacob had just passed away and they were afraid that Joseph would now seek the revenge they felt he was entitled to. Instead of revenge, Joseph reminded his brothers of some very important facts.
- Joseph realized he was not God and therefore was not authorized to impose any punishment upon his brothers. Even though he had the right legally, he did not have the right to refuse forgiveness spiritually. He was acknowledging God’s sovereignty by stating, “Am I in the place of God?”
- He did not gloss over their wrong. He reminded them, “As for you, you meant evil against me…” We won’t help ourselves or our offenders by acting like it never happened. Freedom comes when we face the truth and apply Scriptural principles to guide us through the healing process.
- God is always able to turn mourning into dancing! Joseph realized, “God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
- Finally, he comforted them by speaking kindly and reminding them that he would take care of them and their families. Instead of treating them as he had been treated, he decided to be the bigger man and commit himself to forever forgiveness.
Who has wronged you? What offense needs to be forgiven? Don’t say, “I can’t forgive this individual.” Instead, boldly declare, “All things are possible to those who believe.”
PRAYER: I’m very grateful that you have offered forever forgiveness to me. Although I don’t deserve it, I gladly receive it. Help me to be willing to offer the same to those who may have wronged me. Amen.