By Scott Brown
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Waverly
On more than one occasion I’ve experienced a fractured friendship or a broken family relationship. Countless more times I’ve seen it in church or counseling sessions with others.
There are few things as bitterly painful as a broken relationship that is seemingly beyond repair. Likewise, there are few things as joyfully wonderful as a relationship restored, loved ones reunited, and brokenness repaired.
In Genesis 45 we reach the climax of Joseph’s life story. This is the moment he can choose revenge or restoration. He could interpret this as God giving his brothers over to his vengeance or he could see it for what it truly is, a moment of restoration and forgiveness given by God’s amazing grace.
Can you imagine the confusion his brothers must have felt? This man they knew as a powerful Egyptian governor who had acted harshly toward them was now loudly crying in Hebrew that he was their brother, Joseph, whom they had sold into slavery.
Their fear mingled with joy in that moment must have been tremendous. Joseph is quick to tell them of God’s hand in all of what happened and assure them they are forgiven.
Forgiveness is the single most important ingredient to reconciliation and restoration. It includes giving up the right to further punish someone or hold against them what is forgiven.
Forgiveness is not only a decision but a commitment that comes both from the mind and the heart. Joseph forgives his brothers, joyfully weeps over them, kisses them and blesses them.
That is true forgiveness, when you can bless that person who cursed you so badly. This is the kind of forgiveness that only someone who is first in a right relationship with God can offer because this is the kind that can only come from God.
Seeing how God had blessed him far beyond what he deserved and how God had used his pain to work wonders, how could Joseph do anything but forgive his brothers? Withholding forgiveness would be an affront to all God had done in Joseph’s life.
Perhaps we can’t forgive because the pain is too much, the scars too deep or the brokenness has lasted too long.
The truth is we can’t forgive because we worship that pain, those scars, that brokenness more than the God who heals. If Joseph can forgive his brothers, you can forgive yours.
Among the most revealing aspects of someone’s walk with Christ is forgiveness. It’s not only a question of can they accept God’s truly unmerited, unending forgiveness but can they offer it as well?
No one should be able to forgive like a Christian forgives and there is nothing a Christian can’t forgive because there is no one who forgives like King Jesus and there is nothing He doesn’t forgive those who honestly come to Him by grace through faith, repenting of sin and self, trusting Him alone as Savior.