Summary: How could Joseph possibly forgive his brothers? Even his brothers wondered at it. But the key to how Joseph forgave is also the key to how God forgives us... and how we can forgive others.
OPEN: On the night of December 9, 1914, Edison Industries was virtually destroyed by fire. Edison lost two million dollars that night and much of his life’s work went up in flames. He was insured for only $238,000, because the buildings had been made of concrete, at that time thought to be fireproof.
(Edison’s son) Charles was 24; Thomas was 67. The young man ran about frantically, trying to find his father. Finally he came upon him, standing near the fire, his face ruddy in the glow, his white hair blown by the December winds.
"My heart ached for him," Charles Edison said. "he was 67 - no longer a young man - and everything was going up in flames.”
He spotted me. ’Charles,’ he shouted, ’where’s your mother?’
1 don’t know, Dad,’ I said.
’Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this again as long as she lives.’"
The next morning, walking about the charred embers of all his hopes and dreams, Edison said,
"There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew
Three weeks after the fire, his firm delivered the first phonograph.
(Never Give Up by Tim Crosby, Copyright (c) 2001 by The Quiet Hour http://www.thequiethour.org/)
All his mistakes were gone
He could start over again.
But not everyone believes that way
For example: Some people love to play God. Have you ever met anyone who likes to play God? (many raised their hands). Folks like this feel they have the authority to condemn others. They seem to be totally unwilling to let anyone ever turn their lives around/ start over again.
ILLUS: I was once visiting with some relatives when one person brought up how a preacher she knew was a hypocrite. He would be friendly and outgoing while talking to people in church, but in another organization he was part of, he was cold and impersonal - hardly said hello to anyone.
I tried to explain to this person that the preacher probably didn’t realize he was doing that and that she should try talking to him about it.
Just then another person spoke up and said “I disagree. He is a hypocrite. I always judge someone by their lowest common denominator”
(i.e. the worst thing they do usually defines who they are… for all time)
Somewhat shocked, I turned to this person and said “Oh no! By that standard, none of us stands a chance. We’re all lost!”
All Have Sinned And Fallen Short Of The Glory Of God.
That preacher had sinned, I have sinned, every Elder, Sunday School Teacher or upstanding member of this or any other congregation has sinned. We’ve all fallen short. If we were judged by the lowest common denominator no one would have any hope.
So there are those who like to play God and condemn everyone who doesn’t measure up to their standards.
THEN there are others who’ve sinned so badly they don’t think they could ever be forgiven.
One poet once lamented: Hazel Felleman
"I wish there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again
Where all our mistakes, and all our heartaches
And all our selfish griefs
Could be cast like a shabby old coat at the door