When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?" So they sent word to Joseph, saying, "Your father left these instructions before he died, 'This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly. Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.'" When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
Joseph's sibliings prepared for the worst. They believed that after burying Jacob (Israel) their father, that Joseph would now likely take revenge.
Did they have a good reason to feel this way? Yes, however Joseph's actions so far never revealed any hint of anger, hate or resentment towards them. Joseph treated them with favour, graciousness and forgiveness.
I absolutely love the response Joseph made to his brothers after he heard their request of forgiveness. It's a response that all of us would do well to take to heart and to utter when we are in a similar predicament.
Genesis 50:19-20 But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
Only someone who understands God's love, grace and forgiveness can truly say...You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.
Joseph lived for many years separated from his family. He had a long time in which he could carry a grudge and be unforgiving. He was also wrongly accused and put in jail: another grudge he could carry around with him.
God never abandonned Joseph. He worked in his heart so that Joseph grew into a man with a desire to serve His Lord and a desire to love and forgive unconditionally. Everyone that met Joseph could see God's hand on him.
Do our friends and family and strangers notice the same thing in us? Do they see God's hand on our lives as we display grace, love and forgiveness? Or do they see calculation, anger, resentment, revenge and unforgiveness?
If they see grace, love and forgiveness, they will likely be interested in letting God take control of their lives. If they see only hate, resentment, unforgiveness, etc., they will not take any interest in God.
We too can take the words from Genesis 50: 19-20 and apply them to our lives. The evil that Satan sends our way can become good. Only God can do this.
Are we willing to allow God to take the harm and hurt that is inflicted upon us and allow Him to create good from it so that lives are saved? If Joseph could forgive his brothers can we forgive others? This is part of what we pray when we say The Lord's Prayer, "Forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
I pray that we allow God to work in our hearts and that we allow Him to lead us to forgive others who have wronged us. We need to forgive in order to truly understand and be apart of God's grace.