Summary: How do I know if I have forgiven someone?
76-year-old Bill Baker wed Edna Harvey, his granddaughter’s husband’s mother. His granddaughter, Lynn, 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.” (Campus Life, March, 1981, p. 31)
Most stories of messed up relationships aren’t so funny. You recall the story of Joseph’s brothers’ betrayal. They conspired to kill him because they were jealous of the attention he got from his father. As Jacob’s favorite, Joseph wore a richly ornamented robe, a “coat of many colors.” Additionally, he dreamed his eleven brothers would one day bow down before him, which certainly did not set well with them!
Nevertheless, 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 sold him into slavery. To cover up the crime, they dipped his robe in goat’s blood. They deceived their father, telling him that Joseph had been killed by some wild animal. Their plan worked.
Joseph became 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 had allowed all these things to happen! While he was in prison, Joseph got acquainted with 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 wasn’t through carrying out His purposes and preparation in Joseph’s life. 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 ready yet for what God wanted to bring about in his life. Part of the preparation would require Joseph’s learning to forgive.
When Pharaoh had dreams no one could interpret, the cup bearer remembered Joseph and he was summoned. Joseph interpreted 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 that he made Joseph second in command only to himself, and appointed him to be 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 the years of famine, but people in neighboring lands also came and found help in Egypt. 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 Joseph’s example, we learn how we can know we have forgiven.
1. You will not be angry with God - vs. 7-8
Joseph learned to trust God with his circumstances. He learned that God specializes in taking what others intended for harm and uses it for good; and that God is more interested in building our character than in providing for our comfort. Sometimes, He even allows others to do hurt us in order to work out His purposes in and through us.
Why do people become angry with God? Because they see something God allowed into their lives as not being consistent with what THEY had in mind for their life.
We may not see it now, but eventually, even if it isn’t until eternity, the good God had in mind will be revealed.God is at work, even when we can’t see it. A mother was preparing lunch in the kitchen. Her little girl wandered into the kitchen, agitated and hungry. She strained on her tiptoes to see over the top of the kitchen cabinet. Her curiosity peaked as she expressed frustration over her inability to see the preparations.“What are you doing, mommie?” she asked anxiously. “I’m working” mom responded with no further comment. Unsatisfied, the young girl retorted, “But mom, I can’t see what you are doing!” “I know - but I am at work for You” mom explained while not fully revealing the details of her efforts, “Trust me, you will like it when I am done, now, run along.” Later, the little girl was called into the house by her mom, who presented her with a plate of chocolate chip cookies.