Summary: How do I know I have really forgiven someone?
Genesis 45:1-15; 50:15-21
76-year-old Bill Baker of London recently wed Edna Harvey. She happened to be his granddaughter’s husband’s mother. That’s where the confusion began, according to Baker’s granddaughter, Lynn. She said, "My mother-in-law is now my step-grandmother. My grandfather is now my step-father-in-law. My mom is my sister-in-law and by brother is my nephew. But even crazier is that I’m now married to my uncle and my own children are my cousins." From this experience, Lynn should gain profound insight into the theory of relativity. (Campus Life, March, 1981, p. 31) Unfortunately most stories of messed up relationships aren’t so funny.
You may recall the story of Joseph’s brothers’ betrayal. His brothers had conspired to kill him because they were jealous of the attention he got from his father. As Jacob’s favorite child, Joseph strutted around in a richly ornamented robe, a "coat of many colors." Additionally, Joseph dreamed that his eleven brothers would one day bow don before him, which certainly did not set well with them!
Never the less, those dreams were from God. There was nothing wrong with Joseph’s interpretation, but there was a lot wrong with Joseph. God’s hand was upon him, but he needed a serious attitude adjustment. So God allowed Joseph’s brothers to deal with him severely. Instead of killing him, they decided to sell him into slavery instead. In order to cover up their crime, they dipped Joseph’s robe in some goat’s blood and took it to their father. They deceived him into believing that Joseph had been killed by some wild animal. Their plan worked.
So Joseph found himself a slave in Egypt. He was sold to an Egyptian officer named Potiphar. Potiphar’s wife took a liking to Joseph and sought to seduce him, but he resisted her temptations and fled from her when she made advances toward him. Enraged, she accused him of raping her. Potiphar believed his wife and had Joseph thrown into prison.
Joseph had much to be bitter about: He had been betrayed by those closest to him; He had been falsely accused; and God, who had allowed all these things to happen!
Now while he was in prison, Joseph became acquainted with the Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker, who had also been sent to jail. He interpreted dreams for each of them, which came to pass. The baker was hanged, but the cupbearer was restored to his position. Joseph begged the cup bearer to put in a good word for him.
"But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me
kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon." - Genesis 40:14-15 (NIV)
Most of us would have made the same request. But God was not through carrying out His purposes and preparation in Joseph’s life. Delays are often a part of God’s working in our lives. The cup bearer forgot his Joseph’s plea, until two whole years later.
"The worst thing that can happen to a man is to succeed before he is ready." - Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Joseph wasn’t quite ready yet for the success God wanted to bring to and through his life. Part of the preparation for his success would require Joseph’s learning to forgive fully and completely.
When Pharaoh had disturbing dreams that no one could interpret, the cup bearer remembered Joseph and he was summoned before Pharaoh. Joseph gave the interpretation of the dreams-there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Egypt needed to take advantage of the first seven years to prepare for the last seven.
Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph that he made him second in command in Egypt only to himself, and appointed Joseph the one in charge of making preparations for the seven years of famine.
Joseph did such a good job, that not only did Egypt have plenty during those seven years of famine, but people in neighboring lands also came and found help in Egypt. Which brings us to our passage for today. Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt for help. By the time God brought all this about, He had be able to do the work in Joseph’s life to enable him to forgive his brothers. (READ TEXT)
From the way Joseph went about demonstrating forgiveness toward his brothers, we can discover how we can know we have forgiven a brother who has offended us.
1. You will not be angry with God - vs. 7-8
Joseph had learned to trust God with his circumstances. As a result, he learned the lesson that God specializes in taking what others intended for harm and uses it for good. He learned that God is more interested in building our character than He is in providing for our comfort. That sometimes, He allows others to do hurtful things to us in order to work out His purposes in and through us.