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Summary: Authentic relationships are enhanced whenI give up my right to hurt you for hurting me

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This week I ran across a website called ThePayback.com. This paragraph on the home page of that site describes its purpose:

ThePayback.com is your home for all of your revenge needs. So you never had a chance to get revenge on your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend? Your current spouse lied to you when he said that he would never cheat on you?

Well, you know the saying "Don't get mad, get even".

On that same page you can also find this testimonial:

"Just wanted to thank you guys for providing such great service. I wish I could have seen my ex's face when he got that box of dead roses! You guys really made my day. I'm glad I got even with that jerk. More people need to know about this service, so I'm telling my girlfriends because I'm pretty sure they know some jerks too. Most guys are anyway."

--Jessica

I guess we really shouldn’t be surprised that service like this exists in a culture which embraces the familiar adage that we find on the website: “Don’t get mad, get even.” But I also think that most people, even those who would consider using such a service, would admit that is not the way to foster authentic relationships.

So this morning, in the second of four messages on “Building Blocks for Authentic Relationships”, we’re going to develop the second building block – one that is an antidote to this kind of thinking.

Hopefully you’ll remember that last week we began this series by looking at the relationship between Abram and Lot and we saw how Abram protected and developed that relationship with the building block of selflessness, which we summarized like this:

Authentic relationships are enhanced when

I yield my rights in order to prevent unnecessary fights

This week, we’re going to look at a second building block, one that is demonstrated in the life of Joseph. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Genesis 50 and I’ll read our passage there in just a moment. But before we do that, let me take a moment to review the significant events in Joseph’s life that lead us up to this point. Most of you are probably at least somewhat familiar with the account of Joseph’s life, which comprises most of the last 14 chapters of Genesis, but it won’t hurt any of us to do a quick review.

• When Joseph is 17 (Genesis 37:2), he is sold into slavery to some Midianite traders by his brothers because they are upset with Joseph’s dreams in which he claimed his family would bow down to him.

• The Midianites then sell him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh in Egypt.

• When Potiphar’s wife falsely accuses Joseph of trying to abuse her, he is thrown into prison (Genesis 39)

• While in prison, Joseph correctly interprets the dreams of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker when they are thrown into prison (Genesis 40).

• The cupbearer was restored to his position, just as Joseph had predicted. Two years later when Pharaoh had a dream he could not interpret, the cupbearer remembered Joseph and he was called to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams (Genesis 41).

• Pharaoh then makes Joseph his second in command in order to oversee the collection of the grain during the seven years of plenty which are to follow and the distribution of the grain during the seven years of famine after that (Genesis 41). Joseph is now 30 years old (Genesis 41:46).

• We can’t be sure of the exact timing, but sometime after the famine began, Joseph’s brothers, all except Benjamin, come to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they don’t recognize him. His brothers return home with their grain. (Genesis 42)

• When they run out of grain, his brothers return to Egypt a second time, this time with Benjamin (Genesis 43-44)

• Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers (Genesis 45). Joseph is now 39 years old (Genesis 45:6).

• Joseph sends for his father Jacob and Jacob comes to live in Egypt for the remainder of his life (Genesis 46).

• Jacob dies 17 years later (Genesis 47:28) when Joseph is 56. Joseph takes the body back to Canaan for the burial.

• So that means that the account we’re going to read this morning occurs nearly 40 years after Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery.

You can follow along as I read in Genesis 50, beginning in 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 that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

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