Timeless truths on forgiveness.
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, slandered by his employer, forgotten by his friends. Through it all he forgave. He suffered tremendous consequences as a result of the actions of others. It appeared his life was ruined when his brothers sold him into slavery. He was a young teenage boy. Then he spent time in prison because he was falsely accused. His prison term could have been shortened by a friend but he forgot about Joseph.
How do you forgive all that? How can you possibly forgive others when their actions have dramatically and radically changed your life? We learn the secret from Joseph. When he had a perfect opportunity to make them pay for their sins, he refused. Here is his perspective:
“But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” Genesis 50:19-20 NASB
Joseph did not know the ultimate good that would come out of all the wrongs others did against him, but he knew that vengeance is God’s responsibility, not mans. Because he was not full of the bile of bitterness, he was a constant blessing to others. He sought to do what was right and good. When one is full of unforgiveness, it poisons the heart.
Joseph did not excuse what others did to him. He called it “evil” and exposed their motives. But he forgave. Forgiveness is an act of grace. Joseph did not trust his brothers even though he had forgiven them. Trust is always earned; forgiveness is always unearned. Forgiveness is only possible in a right relationship with God.