As we continue to study through the life of Joseph, learning how to connect with God and with others so that we can connect them with God, we get to the need for forgiveness. In order to forgive correctly, we need to understand what forgiveness is so that we can extend it to others. Last week, we learned that when you connect with God, He motivates you to work hard to serve the people around you. As you serve the people around you, you will have opportunities to connect those people with God.
In order to forgive properly, we need to understand the steps of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not happen without first following confrontation. We do not just simply “forgive” people, which is what we are usually taught. The root word of forgiveness in the Greek language is “grace”. Grace means receiving what you do not deserve. As people, we do not deserve forgiveness yet God chooses to offer it to us. Until we experience God’s forgiveness in our own lives, it is nearly impossible for us to forgive others the way that God desires. Yet, once we have experienced God’s forgiveness, it is possible to extend that forgiveness to others, even if they have sinned against us. Paul offered that forgiveness to the Corinthians which opened the door to reconciliation and relationships restored. Does it always happen this way? No, not always. Many times, those whom we confront in love end up turning on us and continue to keep the relationship broken. In this case, the opposite happened and the relationship was not restored. So, confrontation must take place first and then we are able to offer forgiveness. I want to show you how this plays out in Joseph’s life.
We last saw Joseph connecting with God and working hard. God remembered His promise to Joseph. Pharaoh has a dream and has no answer from his wise men that he pays to advise him. Pharaoh is angry and to curb his anger the head cupbearer remembers Joseph and tells Pharaoh about him. Pharaoh demands to see Joseph. Joseph now has his chance to take revenge on the head cupbearer who did not keep his promise. Joseph does not do this. Instead he goes before Pharaoh and introduces him to God. Pharaoh is so impressed that he puts Joseph in charge of the entire country. Joseph now has a chance to pay back Potiphar and Mrs. Potiphar. He does not do that either. In fact, he serves them just like he serves everyone else in Egypt. Joseph worked hard in his father’s house, in Potiphar’s house, in jail, and now as the head of Egypt.
I. God keeps His promise
The 7 years of abundance give way to 7 years of drought which leads to famine. The famine is sever, and Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to look for food. God’s promise comes to pass because in Genesis 42, Joseph’s brothers come and bow down before him, just like the dream that Joseph had all those years ago. Joseph recognizes God’s plan coming to pass. Joseph still needs to forgive his brothers but he does not do it immediately. He treats them the way that God treats people.
II. Joseph acts according to God’s character
Joseph had his chance. His brothers were at his mercy. He could have had his cold, sweet revenge but he chose to view them as God views them. He had compassion on them. He had mercy on them. Mercy means not giving them what they deserved. They deserved punishment for their action. He extended grace to them. Grace is getting what you do not deserve. They did not deserve mercy or compassion but Joseph extended them. He has not forgiven them yet. He still has to confront them first.
III. Joseph confronts and forgives his brothers
In Genesis 43–44, we see Joseph confronting and testing his brothers to show them what they had done to them. He is preparing to forgive them. He wants to forgive them yet this confrontation and test must take place first. In Genesis 45, we see the culmination of the situation. After confronting his brothers, Joseph finally reveals himself to them and extends forgiveness to them. He tells them that what they meant for evil, God used for good, to carry out the plan that He revealed to Joseph all those years ago. He sends his brothers back home to bless the rest of the family and bring them to Joseph and Egypt. When Jacob hears that his son, Joseph, is still alive, he moves his entire family to Egypt and Joseph’s mother and father bow down before him, just like in the dream that God revealed to him all those years ago. It comes full circle. Joseph had connected with God and he lived by God’s character, having compassion on sinners, offering them mercy and grace, confronting their sin, and then forgiving them.
What about you my dear friend, are you able to forgive the people around you? If you cannot forgive them, why not? Have you connected with God? Do you realize that God has already had compassion on you, extended mercy and grace to you so that He can confront your sin and forgive you? If you have experienced God, then you act like Him, seeking to treat others the way He has treated you. May the Lord help us learn to see people the way that He does.