Summary: Joseph forgave. So can we. Here's how...
Genesis 45 Tuesday intercom
What is the most difficult thing in the world to do? Do you know what it is? The most difficult thing in the world. 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. Do you know what the most difficult thing in the world is to do, that God wants you to do?
When Joseph met his brothers, the Bible says that they were terrified at his presence. They had been real jerks to him, talking about him behind his back, excluding him from their group, throwing him into a hole in the ground, and eventually selling him into slavery. They had been jerks to Joseph, and justice was never really carried out on them - they had gotten away with it. And now here was Joseph years later - in charge of Egypt, with all the power in the world, and they were busted and at his mercy. What will Joseph do? Will Joseph take revenge? Will Joseph get back at them for all the bad stuff they did to him? What will happen?
Joseph did what many people believe is the hardest thing in the world to do… Listen again to Genesis 45: "Do not be distressed," Joseph said to them, "do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here." Genesis 45 goes on to say that Joseph told his brothers to move to Egypt because he wanted to provide for them. He welcomed them and hung out with them and talked with them. You can summarize what Joseph did with one word - forgive.
Why is forgiving considered to be the most difficult things in the world to do? It's not just the church people who say that, it's everybody - it's hard to forgive people. Do you know why? Because when someone does something bad to you, and gets away with it, you want justice. You want revenge. If someone makes fun of you or your family behind your back, what do you want to do to them? If someone excludes you or treats you like dirt because they think they're better than you are - don't you want to get back at that person? If you make my life miserable, I'll make your life even worse.
But God says no - forgive. Where did Joseph get the strength to forgive his brothers? Joseph understood the bigger picture - that was his secret. He understood that God was watching over everything, and that God used their evil for something good: "Do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here," Joseph said to them, "because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you." This gave Joseph the strength to forgive.
God wants you and me to do the same. Forgive that person who makes fun of you or your family behind your back. Forgive that person who treats you like dirt. Forgive everyone who has ever done anything wrong to you - forgive them all.
It is the hardest thing in the world to do. But God will give you the strength, as you focus on the bigger picture. What is the bigger picture? The bigger picture is this - remember that God has already forgiven you, for all the sins you have done life against him. How many times has God had to forgive you? A million? More than that? What did Jesus say, as he hung on that cross as he took away your sins? "Father, forgive them." This is the bigger picture - since God has forgiven me, even though I don't deserve it, I will forgive others, even when they don't deserve it. I will trust that God will take the bad things people to do me and work it for something good. God did that for Joseph, and I trust that God will do that for me as well. I will not get revenge. I will not retaliate. Instead, I will forgive.
We pray: Dear God, thank you for forgiving me for all the bad things I have done against you. Help me to forgive other people, whenever anyone does something bad against me. Amen.