Summary: Here's a major reason why you can forgive...
Genesis 45 THE HARDEST THING IN THE WORLD TO DO Monday
What is the most difficult thing in the world to do? Do you know what it is? Answers.yahoo.com says that this thing I want to talk about today is, quote - "one of the most difficult things you can do." Wikihow.com says the same thing - "one of the most difficult things we humans are ever called upon to do." Do you know what it is? Joseph did it. Lots of people would look at Joseph and say, "wow, Joseph went from being in prison to being in charge of Egypt - that must be the most difficult thing in the world to do - to become the king or the president of a country or something like that." But no, that's not it.
One of the most difficult things in the world to do is to forgive someone. Someone hurts you. And you're supposed to forgive him. Someone destroys your reputation by spreading lies about you behind your back. And you're supposed to forgive him. Someone hurts your mom or your dad or your sister, and you're supposed to forgive him. This is one of the hardest things in the world to do. Can you do this? We talk about this all the time in the Lord's Prayer, "forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against you." But it's not easy. Your best friend shares all your secrets with everyone, and now everyone is laughing at you and making fun of you - and you're supposed to forgive that person who's not your best friend after all?
I bring this up because of the story of Joseph. He did something that was pretty amazing - he forgave his brothers. Listen again to this familiar story…
Genesis 45:3-8, 15
3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.[a] 8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.
It might be most biggest and most overlooked aspect of the story of Joseph. Everyone focuses on how Joseph went from nothing to the second command in Egypt, and that is an amazing story. But what he did with his brothers, the fact that he forgave them - that might be an even more amazing part of this story. Could you do what Joseph did?
Just put yourself in Joseph's shoes for a second. When Joseph was your age - a teenager - all of his brothers hated him. He was not part of their group. His father loved him and gave that special coat to him. But his brothers couldn't stand him. He was an outcast in his own family. Have you ever felt like an outcast before - people being jerks to you for really no reason? Imagine being Joseph - nobody likes you. And then one day, your own brothers throw you into a hole in the ground and sell you to some total strangers. And you are put onto a wagon, tied up, and taken to a foreign land. Your brothers hate you that much. And after that happens, your life goes on a roller coaster - you're a slave for a government official, then you're falsely accused and thrown in jail. And you're sitting in jail in a foreign land - and this is what your brothers did to you.
Would you forgive them? Joseph went through all of that, and now he was the second in command in Egypt, by the grace of God, and his brothers were all standing before him. And the Bible says that they were scared out of their minds - " his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence." They knew what they deserved. But Joseph gave them something that they did not deserve. He gave them mercy. He gave them grace. He forgave them.
And as we listen to what Joseph says, we find out how he was able to do this - he told his brothers not to be angry at themselves for doing bad things to him. And here's why "because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you." Joseph understood that God was ultimately watching over this whole situation. God used their evil for something good. Joseph understood that the bad things that his brothers did to him were part of a bigger plan to save lives. God knew that eventually there would be a terrible famine that would kill millions of people. God knew that Jacob's family - the very family from which the Savior would come - would be wiped out by that famine. And so God had a plan that he would save all those millions of people and the special Savior-family through one man - Joseph. That was God's plan. Joseph understood that, and it helped Joseph to forgive his brothers: "But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance."