Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. Genesis 45:4-5
You have probably heard the phrase “forgive and forget.” The truth is, forgiveness is more of a decision rather than forgetting that someone has hurt you. Forgiveness is choosing to forgive someone despite what they have done. This is exactly what Joseph showed in the book of Genesis. Even though His brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, away from his home and everything he knew, he chose forgiveness instead when he could have chosen retaliation.
Joseph had a choice to make in Genesis 45. During a time of famine, he was put in charge of helping Egypt and surrounding countries, and the famine became so bad that Joseph’s brothers, who were in Israel with their father, went to Egypt to get grain from him. A lot of time had passed, so Joseph’s brothers did not recognize him. He, however, recognized them. For many verses, Joseph concealed his identity from his brothers. This culminated until finally, in chapter 45 of Genesis, Joseph revealed that he was their brother. He said to them, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt” (verse 4). I wish I could have been a fly on the wall at that moment. You could have probably heard a pin drop. I am sure his brothers expected him to be angry and even retaliate for what they had done to them. I bet you, and I would have wanted to get revenge. But, instead of retaliation, Joseph chose forgiveness. “Don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives” (verse 5). He forgave them, no questions asked. Can you imagine the relief and forgiveness his brothers felt?
Joseph made forgiveness look easy in his story found in Genesis, but you and I know that forgiveness is not easy. When people hurt us, we want retaliation, not forgiveness. We want people to get what they deserve for hurting us. Forgiveness is the way to peace, however. When we forgive, we receive restored relationships and peace with those we had not previously had peace with. This is the beauty of forgiveness. Will you offer forgiveness today?
Who do you need to forgive today? Is there someone who has hurt you, whether past or present, which you need to truly decide to forgive? If so, what step can you take today to extend forgiveness? Give someone a phone call whom you have been avoiding. Say the words “I forgive you” to the person who has asked for forgiveness but has not heard those words from you yet. Decide today to choose forgiveness instead of retaliation. As you experience the peace that comes from extending forgiveness, you will be glad you did.
Genesis 45:1-28 (NLT)
Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.
“I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.
“Now hurry back to my father and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me master over all the land of Egypt. So come down to me immediately! You can live in the region of Goshen, where you can be near me with all your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and everything you own. I will take care of you there, for there are still five years of famine ahead of us. Otherwise you, your household, and all your animals will starve.’ ”
Then Joseph added, “Look! You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that I really am Joseph! Go tell my father of my honored position here in Egypt. Describe for him everything you have seen, and then bring my father here quickly.” Weeping with joy, he embraced Benjamin, and Benjamin did the same. Then Joseph kissed each of his brothers and wept over them, and after that they began talking freely with him.
The news soon reached Pharaoh’s palace: “Joseph’s brothers have arrived!” Pharaoh and his officials were all delighted to hear this.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘This is what you must do: Load your pack animals, and hurry back to the land of Canaan. Then get your father and all of your families, and return here to me. I will give you the very best land in Egypt, and you will eat from the best that the land produces.’ ”
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Take wagons from the land of Egypt to carry your little children and your wives, and bring your father here. Don’t worry about your personal belongings, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’ ”
So the sons of Jacob did as they were told. Joseph provided them with wagons, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he gave them supplies for the journey. And he gave each of them new clothes—but to Benjamin he gave five changes of clothes and 300 pieces of silver. He also sent his father ten male donkeys loaded with the finest products of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other supplies he would need on his journey.
So Joseph sent his brothers off, and as they left, he called after them, “Don’t quarrel about all this along the way!” And they left Egypt and returned to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan.
“Joseph is still alive!” they told him. “And he is governor of all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned at the news—he couldn’t believe it. But when they repeated to Jacob everything Joseph had told them, and when he saw the wagons Joseph had sent to carry him, their father’s spirits revived.
Then Jacob exclaimed, “It must be true! My son Joseph is alive! I must go and see him before I die.”
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