Then he (Joseph) broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him. Genesis 45:2 NLT
His slanted eyes and caustic words sounded the unforgiveness alarm. And I detected it clearly.
He was my best friend when I became his pastor, but after a few years, I was his enemy. I generated a decision he didn’t appreciate. He believed I had accused him. Nothing I said would alter his thinking. When I didn’t respond as he thought I should have after a death in his family, the coffin on our friendship was sealed. I apologized, but he wouldn’t accept it.
Joseph toiled with forgiveness too. The sound of his was so loud everyone nearby could hear it. And he had reason to combat it. He was sold by his family, enslaved in a foreign country, and falsely accused by a scorned woman.
Finally, God rescued him and made him the second in command of the entire country. His brothers—who had sold him into slavery—begged for food. Their country was experiencing a famine. Joseph needed to reveal his identity. He needed to forgive them for selling him as a slave, for lying to their father about his whereabouts, and for all the hardships he had endured. But it was painful. The sound of his struggle echoed throughout the palace.
Although God wants us to forgive our offenders immediately, He never said it was easy. Without His help, it’s impossible. Joseph’s toying with his brothers reveals the difficulty. He accused them of lying about their identity and about why they were in Egypt. He placed his drinking cup in their sacks and then accused them of stealing. He retained one in prison and sent the others away. All efforts to pay them back for what they’d done to him.
Forgiveness often has to be repeated. Once may only work for a time. Satan brings the offense back up, and we have to forgive again lest thoughts of revenge take over.
Forgiving others is an ongoing process. Others will wrong me throughout life—and I’ll wrong others, unintentionally and sometimes intentionally.
Forgiving those who wrong me seems illogical, and it is. But doing so is evidence I’ve experienced God’s grace. God forgiving me for my sin against Him is just as senseless, but He does. And I must mimic His behavior. That’s what grace does.
If you need to forgive someone, do it now. It may be your last chance.
Prayer: Father, as You have forgiven us, enable us to forgive others.
Tweetable: What is keeping you from forgiving?