Genesis 50:19-21 (NIV)
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
When Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for help in the midst of a devastating famine, he could have tossed them out of the country or something even worse. They had once been so jealous of their father’s love for Joseph that they contemplated killing him before eventually selling him into slavery and into what they likely assumed would be a life of misery.
None of them could have known that Joseph would rise to become the second-most powerful man in the county, behind only Pharaoh himself. Imagine what it must have been like for Joseph to see his brothers come before him in obvious need. Rather than exacting some sort of revenge, Joseph forgave his brothers for the terrible things they had done to him
John Flavel, an English Presbyterian clergyman, puritan, and author, who lived in the 1600’s once said, “Sometimes God makes use of instruments for good to His people, who designed nothing but evil and mischief for them. Thus Joseph’s brethren were instrumental to his advancement in that very thing in which they designed his ruin.”
When you’ve been wronged, it sometimes hurts profoundly. You might be tempted to lash out in retaliation against the one who hurt you. As difficult as it is, though, Christians are called to forgive. Joseph’s story is a good illustration of forgiveness, and Jesus should be our ultimate example. Can you think of someone, or maybe even a few people, whom you should consider forgiving? Taking that first step might be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, but it’s an important step that demonstrates love and obedience to God.
As we consider the idea of forgiveness, ask yourself these questions:
Why do you think God wants us to forgive those who have wronged us?
What keeps us from forgiving others?
Giving some serious thought to these two questions can give you a real indicator of where your heart lies. If you are struggling with being able to forgive others, ask God to help you. He wants what is best for you and would love to help you in this particular area of your life.