Summary: A look at the life of Joseph - how God used his circumstances to provide an example of "How to forgive one another"
After 36 years of life, I have come to the conclusion of the following: if we as Christians would forgive one another as Christ Jesus has forgiven each one of us, the Body of Christ could move forward as a mighty army - and not limp in neutral as a wounded/divided militia!
Forgiveness is necessary for each one of us to make it in life. Forgiveness from God for our sins - and also, forgiveness from others whom we have hurt, knowingly or unknowingly.
For forgiveness to be effective, the one who is forgiving and the one whom is seeking forgiveness must be repentant! This morning, the Word of God leads us to the powerful story of Joseph in the Old Testament.
The introduction is fairly long and I invite you to come along on this journey as we see the ultimate story of forgiveness as represented by Joseph in the book of Genesis, beginning in Chapter 37.
Joseph was special to his father. As a matter of fact, he was the preferred son or chosen son by his father. This created tremedous friction and jealousy within the family. His father created him a "long sleeved robe" or a "tunic" filled with many colors. This ornamented robe marked the son whom the father intended to be the future leader of the household. It was normally given to the firstborn son.
The jealousy led to a crime - betrayal - selling as a slave - and abandonment by Joseph's brothers. Today, it would make a great mini-series on prime time TV. Jacob, Joseph's father was tore up about the situation, fearing the worst for his son. However, through it all, God was with Joseph. You see, that's the key - Genesis 39:2 - "The Lord was with Joseph."
The journey was never easy for Joseph. From Potiphar's wife and the temptation that came his way - to the power of God that helped him overcome that temptation. To his imprisonment for a crime that he did not commit, to his ability to be an instrument of god as he interpreted dreams. Ultimately, God empowered him - Genesis 39:23 - "The Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper."
So up to this point:
Joseph was adored by his father, Jacob
Joseph was betrayed, sold, and abandoned by his brothers
Joseph was sold to Potiphar
Joseph was placed into temptation with Potiphar's wife
Joseph overcame the temptation, but served time due to false accusation
* Joseph was an instrument of God's love and peace
* Joseph was empowered with the power of God
* Joseph was filled with God
That leads us up to Chapter 45:1-15
1. Forgiveness is a gut-wrenching experience!
v.1 - Make everyone go out from me!
v.2 - And he wept aloud
v.3 - Revealing of himself
v.4 - "I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angy with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life!"
2. Forgiveness is a revealing experience!
God is in control - why do we try to be in control?
v.7 - God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
God used all of the bad things for his good!
* His omniscience
* His omnipresence
* His omnipotence
You see, whatever is or has gone on in your life and in my life - God is in control!
Through the revealing, God leads Joseph to assume the leadership role within the family!
3. Forgiveness is a releasing experience
Now the story takes a positive turn - they get Jacob, bring him to Egypt and all of their belongings - then Jacob takes a turn for the worse and passes away. The brothers are in a panic - was Joseph's forgiveness "for real?"
An attitude of repentance was displayed by the brothers
A display of forgiveness was displayed by Joseph
Think of this today:
1. Repentance is essential to receiving God's forgiveness
2. Repentance is essential to reconciliation with another person
- If I want to rebuild a broken relationship - repentance is necessary!
3. Repentance is essential to restoration to a position
- Personal offenses
- Corporate offenses
See Matthew 18:15-21
4. Repentance is essential to relief from guilt!
I close with three basic thoughts
1. Unconditional forgiveness is Biblical
2. Unconditional forgiveness is Practical