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Summary: This message reveals the differences between one who responds to life’s hurts and insults according to righteousness, and those who respond according to revengefulness.

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Righteousness vs. Revengefulness

Text: Eph. 4:31-32; Gen. 50:21

Intro: According to Webster’s Dictionary, revenge means, “to inflict damage, injury, or punishment in return for (an injury, insult, etc.) retaliate for.”(1) A shorter, modern-day definition would simply be “payback, settling the score; or as some people like to say, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” Though the origin of that last statement is unknown, we can readily imagine a Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger movie character making such a statement with a devil-may-care-look on his face. When we hear that statement, we smile a knowing grin, assured that things are about to get tough for the one who dared to cross the main character of the movie.

There’s something about seeing the bad guys get their comeuppance that all of us enjoy. We like to see justice done; and sometimes we don’t even mind seeing justice overdone a bit. However, though revenge might make for an interesting storyline in a movie, it should never become a part of the Christian’s life and attitude. Christians do not possess a God-given right to “even the score” with those who have wronged them, or offended them. Please understand that I’m not talking about matters of illegality. However, those matters should be handled according to civil law, not by physical force or spiteful mistreatment.

The life of Joseph is a prime example of the sort of response that Christians should seek to emulate when others do them wrong. If anyone had a good reason for wanting to retaliate for injustices done, Joseph did. His brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, strictly out of jealousy and hatred. Nevertheless, this godly Old Testament man did not seek to give those who wronged him a piece of their own medicine, but rather, he demonstrated grace, kindness and forgiveness. God, in His Word, urges the saints of our day, to do the same thing. This is made possible by walking in the Spirit, so that one does not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16).

For a few moments today, I want to discuss the difference between one who walks in righteousness and one who wants revenge.

Theme: The telltale signs of a revengeful attitude are…

I. REVENGE INVARIBLY EXPRESSES NO GODLY PITY

A. Joseph’s Brothers Contemplated Hatred.

Gen. 50:15 “And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.”

NOTE: [1] It is rather sad that Joseph’s brothers still misunderstood his character, after all the kindness he had shown them during their years in Egypt.

[1a] When Joseph finally made himself known to his brethren, who had come to Egypt to buy food, he sought to comfort them concerning the fact that they had sold him into slavery (Gen. 45:3-5).

[1b] He had lovingly received his brothers with heartfelt affection. He embraced them all, kissed them, and wept with them (Gen. 45:14-15).

[1c] He gave them the best land in Egypt to live in, and to raise their flocks (Gen. 47:11). He gave them the land of Goshen, which means, “‘to draw near.’ In other words, his brethren were put in a place where they could have access to him.”(2)

[2] Notice that these brothers expected Joseph to hate them, and as a result, “requite us,” or “pay us back for all the wrong we did to him.”(3) In spite of all the love that Joseph had shown his family since coming to live in Egypt, they feared that he would resort to getting even after their father’s death. You know folks; some Christians fear that if they mess up bad enough, Jesus will get even with them by taking back their salvation. Nothing could be farther from the character of our Savior, for Ps. 103:10 & 12 says, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities…As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

B. Joseph’s Brothers Confessed Honestly.

Gen. 50:16 “And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,

17a So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father.”

NOTE: Joseph’s brothers had hinted at their sin against Joseph years before, when they first arrived in Egypt and discovered that Joseph was alive and well. Here, however, they finally come clean, and ask for Joseph’s forgiveness.

C. Joseph was Compassionately Humbled.

Gen. 50:17b “…And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.”

NOTE: [1] A truly forgiving person has no desire to see an offender grovel at their feet, begging for mercy and forgiveness, nor do they enjoy seeing the pain caused by the offender’s guilt. Instead, they are filled with compassion and understanding for the offender. However, this doesn’t mean that they feel good about the wrong done them; but it means that they choose to no longer hold the wrong over the heads of the offender.

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