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. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 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.
“I will never forgive him!” “What do you think, am I just going to forgive you?”
If anyone had reason not to forgive, it was Joseph. Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery and years of difficulty and personal pain followed. (Read: Genesis chapters 37–50.)
However, by the time he is reunited with his brothers, he has become the “Prime Minister” of Egypt. He is in charge of the great warehouses of grain which he saved in advance of a terrible drought and famine. He has the motive, the means and the opportunity to let his brothers have it.
It is stunning to see what happens next. There is no grudge and no payback. Instead, there is gracious welcome and generous hospitality. How can this be? Joseph tells us: “Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…”
The desire for revenge and failure to forgive are common human responses to sin, but they are not responses according to God’s love and in keeping with God’s will. God is a God of forgiveness. Through the death of Christ, he sends our sins away never to be found on our record again. He holds no grudges; he seeks to save and not to harm.
Filled with great appreciation for the forgiveness that God has freely given to me through Jesus, I am moved to forgive others. The forgiveness that I give to others frees me from anger and pain and frees those I forgive from guilt and shame. God intends forgiveness for good, and the ultimate good is heaven.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your forgiveness of my sins. Lead me daily to forgive others even as I have been forgiven. Amen.
This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.
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