Summary: Joseph, Pt 4 of 4
FORGIVENESS MEANS HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY
(GEN 42:21-22, 44:33-45:8, 50:15-21)
Less than two months after we moved into our present house, our kitchen sink clogged up. The water would drain from the left basin and come up on the right basin. We tested the garbage disposal but it was working fine. Because our regular handyman was out of town, we waited until we could not stand the smell anymore. Then we called a friend and asked for the name and phone of his handyman.
When the husband and wife team arrived four days later, they first unscrewed the pipes and collected the leftover smelly water with a bowl into a plastic bag. Later they used a 40-feet snake to drain the clogged pipes. They said with satisfaction that the 40-foot snake was close to tunneling its way to the main street drain. I was impressed! After collecting and washing the snake, the husband turned on the tap water to test the drain. He collected a pool of water in the sink and then unplugged the strainer, expecting to see the water whirling down the drain.
Unfortunately, the water still rushed up the other basin. He then went to his van to get a 100-foot long snake to finish the job. The man showed us the oil solids that were clogging up our pipes, and advised us to use more of the hot water to drain the pipes. We paid $50 for an hour of work, but the money was well spent on fresh air, the new home, and a peace of mind.
The unforgiving person has been compared to a cesspool of still, dirty, and foul water. It’s been said that forgiveness is a choice not to hold a sin against a person any longer. The longer you leave the blockage alone, the more resistant it gets. What is stuck, decomposed, and coagulated there is an ugly sight. Every hard-earned dollar you spend on cleaning up, flushing out and washing down the accumulated garbage from unforgiving is worth its long-term investment.
Seven years after the good years had passed, Joseph’s brother traveled down to Egypt for food. The famine had not only affected Egypt but also the surrounding regions. The brothers had forgotten about him, but Joseph did not forget what they did to him. However, he also remembered what God had done for him and recognized that the power of forgiveness was in his hands. The word “forgive” made its first Bible appearance in Genesis 50:17, a fitting end to the development of the book and a glorious start to the birth of the new nation.
What is the purpose of forgiveness? Why is forgiving better than avoidance, resentment, or vengeance? How do we begin and where and when does it end?
DON’T CARRY BAGGAGES; APPLY BANDAGES
21 They said to one another, "Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us." 22 Reuben replied, "Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood." (Gen 42:21-22)
The Los Angeles Times (2/26/93) reported that a high school coach mistakenly listed only one of the Stucky twins, Jon and Jay Stucky, in the official scorebook before a basketball game with a rival school.
In the course of the match, one of the twins was injured just before the first half ended. At halftime, the coach wanted to use the other twin to substitute for the injured brother, but that would result in a technical foul because his name was not previously submitted. So, the coach instructed the substitute twin to use his injured brother’s jersey and assumed his brother’s identity, thereby avoiding a technical foul for using an unlisted player.
The Stuckys looked so much alike that even the other team’s coach and players were unaware of the switch. The substitute twin helped his team win a tight game, 68-65. After the game, the coach knew he had done wrong and his conscience bothered him. He talked to the principal of the school, and then voluntarily turned himself in to the state. The coach and the substitute twin gladly submitted themselves to the punishment handed to them and sat out the one-game suspension.
Joseph’s brothers finally confessed to a family secret they had harbored for more than twenty years. They were perennial hostages to their hatred (Gen 37:4-5, 8), jealousy (Gen 37:11), and lie (Gen 37:11-12). Two decades after their senseless act of selling their brother, they used three verbs to confess and bury their previous nagging, mounting, and indicting feelings. The brothers were haunted by their actions: "Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us" (Gen 42:21).The first NIV verb in verse 21 "being punished" appears like an action imposed on them as offenders, but the Hebrew phrase "very guilty" movingly reflects the emotions lodged in their hearts and pointedly described what had been scaring, stifling, strangling them. The verb described the turmoil in their hearts, how ill at ease they were for the last twenty years.