Very few people have been as hurt by their own brothers as Joseph. He was mocked, picked on, had his coat stolen, was thrown into a pit, and was ultimately sold as a slave to a foreign land. As a follower of God, who has been blessed by God, Joseph knows that he is called to forgive his brothers, but they have cut him deeply. Before he can forgive them, he wants to know if they are still just as jealous as they were when he was a child, or if they have matured into possessing any redeemable qualities. Essentially, he wants to know: are they are worthy of forgiveness?
So, he gives them two tests. They passed his first test by not showing any jealousy over Benjamin’s excessive portion size. Now they will face an even greater test, when Benjamin is falsely accused of stealing: will they let their brother suffer or come to his defense?
Please read all Genesis chapter 44 (don’t worry, most of it is repeated information).
Joseph has set a trap for his brother by putting his cup in Benjamin’s sack. Once the trap has sprung, they must be tempted to let Benjamin alone suffer the governor’s wrath. But instead of turning Benjamin over to the governor for punishment, they all come to his defense. Clearly, they are beginning to mature.
In fact, Joseph twice tries to let the rest of the brothers go and insists that Benjamin alone should be punished, but the brothers refuse to let him suffer that fate. They tell Joseph of the pain that it would cause Jacob, and they are willing to put their own lives on the line to prevent Benjamin and Jacob from suffering.
As we will see tomorrow, this change of heart by his brothers leads Joseph to such emotions that he can’t control himself. He soon reveals himself to his brothers, with implied forgiveness, and they all weep aloud at their reunion.
If we are honest, forgiveness is one of the hardest commands to practice. We are all grateful that God has forgiven us, but most of us find it hard to extend that same forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Like Joseph, we want the person who hurt us to first demonstrate that they are repentant, that they have changed, and they are now worthy of our forgiveness.
Thank God that He didn’t wait for us to be worthy of His forgiveness. While we were yet sinners, God demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son to die for us. In fact, it is because God first loved us that many of us were moved to repentance.
If God could extend such love and forgiveness to us before we could shape up and earn it, then we too should extend that same level of forgiveness to those who have hurt us, no matter how unworthy they may be.
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