Friday, May 27, 2022
Genesis 50:19-21 “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. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”
After all that Joseph had been subjected to because of his brothers’ sins against him, he forgave them. He didn’t hold a grudge. He didn’t seek revenge. He didn’t try to get even. Instead, he restored them and cared for them, providing for their every need. He built them back up through reassuring and kind words. He truly made a difference.
Forgiveness makes all the difference. We can make a significant difference in the lives of others if we will forgive them. But how is that possible, given the hurts and sufferings they have caused us. We have been given a standard of forgiveness in Scripture. The Apostle Paul says to the church at Colossae, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
That’s a pretty high standard. I’m supposed to forgive others the way Jesus forgave me? Yes! I’ll let you in on a key principle that I discovered just this morning – forgiveness is possible when we consider the purpose of God ahead of our own hurts. Let’s go back and look at the story of Joseph. One of the greatest statements about forgiveness in all of Scripture is made by Joseph when he says, ”You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” The choices Joseph made were not dictated by the choices of others, but by the purpose of God. He was not influenced by the hurts he had suffered, but by the things God was accomplishing through those hurts. He had his eyes clearly focused on the bigger picture.
When we learn to get our eyes off of ourselves and focused on what God is doing, we will be willing to endure any suffering for the sake of God’s purpose. That’s how Jesus was able to forgive us. Was he hurt by our sin? Did he suffer because of our sin? Of course! Yet he forgave us, because he was focused on the purpose of God rather than what He was suffering.
In the story, Joseph’s brothers came to him with proper attitudes of responsibility and humility. Yet there was no need for those attitudes to be present for love to be expressed. Joseph said, “Am I in the place of God?” In other words, “What right do I have to condemn you and hold a grudge when it is God’s place alone to judge the hearts of men?” This was Joseph’s heart before he even knew what his brothers were thinking.Joseph did not allow his own hurts to come before his acknowledgment of God. God’s love had so permeated his heart that his hurts had been long before dissolved into forgiveness.
God did the same thing for us. “God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
We can make a difference in someone else’s life today by having a spirit of forgiveness even if they have done nothing to indicate they want it. Forgive them. Pull the hurts from your heart and look at the purpose of God. He’s saving people’s lives by forgiving them. Let’s join Him in that mission.