Scripture: Genesis 44:1 Then (Joseph) commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the top of his sack. 2 Put my cup, the silver cup, in the top of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him. 3 As soon as the morning was light, the men (Joseph’s brothers) were sent away with their donkeys. 4 When they had gone only a short distance from the city, Joseph said to his steward, “Go, follow after the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you returned evil for good? Why have you stolen my silver cup? 5 Is it not from this that my lord drinks? Does he not indeed use it for divination? You have done wrong in doing this.’ ”
Observation: This is the second time that Joseph sets up his brothers to look like thieves. Granted, since his brothers sold him into slavery many years before, one might say they had it coming. Yet it’s hard not to think Joseph is just toying with them as a means of getting a measure of revenge. If Joseph had planned to forgive his brothers all along, he could have done it much sooner – without all the drama. Hence it seems to me, with all the deception going on, Joseph was still making up his mind how he would deal with his brothers. Would he have them arrested? Put in prison? Put to death? Or would he forgive them? As we’ll see in the next chapter of Genesis, Joseph ultimately decides on mercy rather than revenge.
Application: I have to admit, like Joseph, I’m sometimes tempted to seek revenge rather than offer forgiveness when someone wrongs me. Know what I mean? It’s natural for us to want others to pay for their sins against us. Yet we know we often sin against others too – whether we intend to or not. Forgiveness is a HUGE deal in the bible. One of the most profound signs of God’s Kingdom is both the enormous forgiveness first extended to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, and the expectation that we will in turn forgive others – whether they deserve forgiveness or not. This is called “grace”. Sounds so simple, which it is – but it’s not easy. This raises some questions for me this morning:
(1) Where am I withholding forgiveness from someone who I perceive has wronged me?
(2) Have I reflected recently on the enormous grace first shown to me in Jesus Christ?
(3) Have I prayed for the Lord to help me resist the temptation to seek revenge?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, it’s hard not to hold a grudge against those who have wronged us. It’s our nature to want others to pay for what they’ve done. Yet the truth is you don’t make us pay for our sins against you. Instead, when we repent of our sin, you forgive us our sin and remember our sin no more. Give us grace to be like you, O Lord. In our strength we cannot do it, but by your grace, all things are possible. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.