Summary: Forgiving those who hurt us and moving on from that hurt is one of the most difficult and challenging tasks Christians are called to do.
Genesis 45:4-11 “Recovering From Resentment”
Recently we displayed a message on our marquee that read, “God doesn’t promise us a comfortable journey, just a safe landing.” We live in hope that the last phrase of this sentence will be true. We know from experience that the first part of the sentence is true; none of us goes through life without facing struggles and being wounded.
If we are to live the abundant life, move beyond success to significance, and be healed from life hurts, it is important that our wounds heal and scar over, rather then fester and infect our whole being. An important way for this to happen is to learn how to recover from our resentment.
Resentment comes from two sources. We, at times, resent the fact that people receive the promotions that we should have been given, or are luckier than we are in life. We also resent it, when people seek to hurt us instead of being a blessing to us. I’m going to focus on this last facet of resentment in this sermon tonight.
If there was ever a man who lived, who could be justified in his resentment, it was Joseph. He was born in to a life of privilege—the favorite son of his father, Jacob. He was a great-grandson of Abraham. He was given the finer things in life, and he never had to work. Joseph was destined for a charmed life until people sought to harm him.
· His brothers hated Joseph. They did not like the preferential treatment that Joseph received from Jacob. They did not like that fact that Joseph lorded it over them, either. Because of this, some of his brothers sought to kill Joseph. They eventually settled for selling him into slavery.
· Joseph rose to a prominent position in the house of Potiphar, an important man in the Egyptian military. When Potiphar was away from home, Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce Joseph, who was a handsome man. When Joseph fended off her advances, she accused him of rape and had him imprisoned.
· When in prison, Joseph interpreted the dreams of two of his fellow inmates. He asked them to remember him when they were set free. Joseph was forgotten for two years.
THE CANCER OF RESENTMENT
Resentment starts out small, but unless it is released and removed—unless a person recovers from it—it will eventually destroy life, as does a cancer. This truth is contrary to the thought of many people. Most people believe that resentment is a benign emotion, and that it will have not lasting effect on their lives. They treat is as they do an innocuous lump on their bodies. Slowly the resentment begins to eat away at and consume their lives.
Resentment focuses on the past. It replays the past again and again. It is unable to change the past, but resentment is nourished and empowered to grow by living in the past. A positive, powerful, significant life cannot be lived in the past. There can be no personal growth and no growth in ministry, while focused on the past. -- Resentment is like riding in a car backwards. You don’t anticipate what you are going to see and experience. You only become angry at all the things that you have missed.
Resentment blocks love and forgiveness. These are two hallmarks of the Christian life. We cannot be transformed into the image of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, while we allow resentment to reside and build in our lives.
The proper handling of resentment is seen in Joseph’s dealing with his brothers. Joseph could have sought revenge, and he did not. Joseph refused to allow resentment to adversely affect his relationship with his brothers, or limit his future. Joseph did not simply resolve to disallow resentment’s cancerous effects in his life. There were specific steps that he took to eliminate resentment.
The first step that Joseph took was to acknowledge God’s hand in the actions of his brothers. He was able to look back on his life and see how God was preparing the way for the people of God to withstand the great famine that had befallen the world. Joseph was part of the plan, as Pharaoh’s chief administrator, to provide the needed food for God’s people. Also, Joseph recognized God’s presence in his life even when things were not going well for him. Joseph clung to the overwhelming and steadfast love of God, though people were against him God would always be for him.
Joseph may have also realized how dramatically God had changed his life, and molded him into a servant of God, through the unjust events of his life.
· Being a slave and imprisoned turned Joseph from an arrogant child in to a humble leader.