Grace shown through Forgiveness

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This is a public domain image of Joseph forgiving his brothers

Genesis 45:5 Now, therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

Read Genesis 45:5, 50:15-21  Joseph forgave his brothers with grace for selling him into slavery.  Although his brothers didn’t recognize the forgiveness given in 45:5, he reasserted his complete and total forgiveness in 50:15-21 after their father Jacob’s death.  By forgiving his brothers when they obviously didn’t do anything to deserve it, he showed God’s grace toward his brothers.

The story of Joseph is an amazing story of trial and tribulation and growth and grace. It is also a very long story going from Genesis chapter 37 through Genesis chapter 50. Joseph starts out as pretty much a spoiled brat whom his brothers decide that when they have an opportunity to get rid of him they will.  They actually plan his death, they hate him more than they love their father.  I have a few younger brothers, and so I know what it is like to grow up with people who seem to make it their life’s goal to be annoying and irritating.  Thankfully, like Joseph, as we grew up we all changed and matured.   Can you imagine just how annoying Joseph must have been to the older brothers for them to actually take it so far?  Here are a few points in the story that tell us the personality Joseph had….1.)  He has a dream where all his siblings and his parents too bow down to him in the dream.  The dream isn’t the problem it is that he announces it first to his brothers, then to his father as if they should start bowing down immediately! He certainly could have delivered the news of his God given dream to his father privately and asked him what it was all about…or he could have kept it to himself too. 2.)  He is a tattle tale…his father sends him to see if his brothers and the flocks are well and come back and tell him. 3.)  He is the spoiled favorite who gets all of the good stuff and doesn’t have to do any work.

Usually, when we read or hear the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors and all that he went through we only hear how Joseph was abused by his brothers.  We don’t usually look at Joseph, himself, that much.  He is looked upon as the innocent in the story.  Just as none of us are innocent of sin, neither was Joseph.  However, as Joseph later told his brothers…”what you determined in evil…but God determined good from it.” (paraphrase of Genesis 50:20).   God knew all of Joseph’s faults all along…so he sent the dream to Joseph to tell him the future (and probably to give him hope in later hard times), and to set things in motion to bring about his plan for both Joseph’s maturity into someone whom God could use for great things, and to heal the relationship between Joseph and his family.

If all of those things had not happened to Joseph he would not have become the person who was humble enough and trustworthy enough to handle the task that God had given him.  If Joseph had not been enslaved, falsely convicted of attempted rape, jailed, and then brought before the Pharaoh and saved Pharaoh’s life…he would not have been the person that would have had the wisdom to help Pharaoh to save the land from drought, and also to be able to save his own family.  All of his trials made him who he was, and they humbled him to the point where he really learned who God was, and that God would get him through anything.  Joseph relied on God and looked for God’s will in every situation….he came to understand what his faults were, and also that God was a God of grace and forgiveness.  Once you understand that fact, then it becomes easier to forgive those around you who have wronged you.  Those who are forgiven much, love much. (Luke 7:47)

If you have not read the story of Joseph completely I encourage you to take the time to do so.  He is one of the Patriarchs of the Bible and the story is really interesting and worth the time.  It will also help you to understand his path of faith and how he became someone who could forgive his brothers so simply.  When you are challenged in life there are always two ways to respond….one is the response of the world, which is selfishness and hatred…the other is to respond in the way of God, which is love and forgiveness…a “what can I learn from this experience that will help me to draw closer to God” kind of attitude.

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