“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good…don’t be afraid, I will continue to take care of you and your children. ‘So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.'” Genesis 50:20-21
Daily our hearts are hurt, sometimes by those closest to us and sometimes by strangers, no matter the source, the pain is still the same and what we harbor inside our hearts is what causes so many of our emotional and physical problems. We are reminded in Colossians 3:13 about Christian forgiveness, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Joseph epitomizes the virtue of forgiveness and we can draw some very practical points from his story.
- Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight, in fact it can be a long process. There are times that we must consciously forgive over and over again before our hearts release.
- Forgiveness should not be dependent upon a confession. Joseph forgave his brothers even though they were not totally truthful with him.
- Forgiveness does not have to be dependent on an agreed version of the circumstances. Joseph didn’t insist on a clear vision of the past and moved forward instead of “rehashing” it.
- Forgiveness lets go of the human act of revenge. Joseph had no desire to retaliate and illustrates this beautifully when he states, “Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your little ones.” Genesis 50:20-21 (HCSB)
- Being able to forgive does not mean we forget. Only God can promise us that “He will remember our sins no more.” Hebrews 10:17
- Forgiveness means not “dredging” up the past. It is human nature to let others know when we have been wronged. What we need to remember is that although we can’t forget we can make the conscious choice to stop gossiping about it to others or belaboring it within ourselves.
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we excuse the behavior. Joseph states emphaticlly, “You intended to harm me…” Genesis 50:20 By making excuses we only cause bitterness to rule our hearts.
- Forgiveness is easier, not easy, when we sit in God’s shadow. The joy of being a Christian is that we don’t have to do this alone, in fact, God doesn’t expect it of us.
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we trust immediately the one who has hurt us. Forgiveness and trust are two separate matters. Trust is earned after repeated acts of behavior, it takes times.
- Forgiveness is never complete unless love replaces the anger. Joseph accomplished this with his final remark in Genesis 50:21 when he said “…So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.”
These words are simpler to write than they are to act on, it is easy to continue to harbor anger, hurt, distrust and bitterness against others but is that what God is really asking of us? God asks us to forgive to protect us, we receive the most benefit from forgiveness. When we release ourselves from anger we begin a healing process that breaks down the walls that can form between us and God. He has given us specific direction and it is simple … FORGIVE!
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25 (NIV)
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37 (NIV)