Scripture: Genesis 50:15-26
Key verse: (15) When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil which we did to him.”
Reflection: Forgiveness is amazing. The story about Joseph and his family is long and fascinating. Joseph’s brothers were so jealous of him that they conspired to kill him. Instead of dying, however, Joseph was found by some traders who sold him into slavery in Egypt. Many years later, and after many plot twists (you really need to read the whole story!) Joseph came face to face again with his brothers. They didn’t recognize him, but he definitely recognized them. Most people under similar circumstances would use this opportunity to get revenge. But, not Joseph. He shows mercy to his brothers and is happily re-united with his father and family.
In today’s passage, Jacob (aka Israel), Joseph’s father, has died and the brothers are worried that Joseph will now seek revenge on them for what they did to him so long ago. They wondered if Joseph had been bearing a grudge. They asked again for his forgiveness even though Joseph had forgiven them many years ago. None of them could picture the kind of forgiveness Joseph extended to them.
Bearing grudges still goes on in families. People hold things against one another –sometimes waiting for years to get revenge. Others live under the crushing weight of unforgiveness. Joseph could have chosen not to forgive, but he didn’t. He saw how God took the evil done against him and turned it into something good. Joseph moved forward trusting in God and God used him to do immeasurable good for others.
During Lent, we have the opportunity to forgive. It may not be easy. In some cases, human forgiveness might not be possible and God will have to make it happen. But, my guess is that most people hold grudges for much smaller offenses than attempted, first degree murder. Pride gets in the way and we refuse to forgive. We cultivate anger and resentment and won’t let it go. Is this how we want to live?
Who do you hold a grudge against? Would you consider forgiveness today?
Prayer: Merciful God, reveal to us where we are holding a grudge against someone else. Help us to consider if forgiveness is a possibility and then, help us to discover how to forgive. Remind us that we forgive because we have been forgiven. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].