This week’s readings remind us of the loving, forgiving and also just nature of God and how these play themselves out in our lives as we seek to be transformed more into his likeness.
In Genesis, Joseph demonstrates true forgiveness towards his brothers. When their father dies, Joseph’s brothers assume he will turn against them. Therefore they lie, stating that Jacob asked Joseph to continue to forgive them even after his death. Joseph could have acted up to what his brothers expected from him; he could have taken revenge, but instead he weeps. He is so saddened that they have not understood that his heart is totally for them; he has wholly forgiven them, and speaks ‘kindly to them’ (Gen 50:21).
We can sometimes be like this before God; we know the Bible says that Jesus died to forgive us all our sins, but have we truly received that forgiveness? Do we live in light of it, or do we continue to live like we have not been fully forgiven? Joseph’s reaction to his brothers mirrors God’s heart for us. He has totally forgiven us and longs for us to know this.
Although we may identify with the brothers in this story, our role model should be Joseph- a man who extends wholehearted forgiveness to his oppressors. Joseph models the kind of sacrificial love that the apostle Paul exhorts us to show one another in his letter to the Romans. Paul tells us that ‘in view of God’s mercy’ (Rom 12:1), because we have been wholeheartedly loved and forgiven by God, we too are to love and forgive others. Where there is evil done against us we are to overcome it with good; where others are in need, we are to provide for them, even if they are our enemy. We are to show others the costly love that God has first loved us with, that same love that Joseph demonstrated towards his brothers.
Loving people as Christ has loved us is not a cop out; evil does not get the last word. We are told not to take revenge against wrongs done to us but to leave room for ‘God’s wrath’ (Rom 12:19). This is the wrath we have been saved from through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. God will judge evil, including that done to his people- this is clearly seen in the book of Obadiah. However that is God’s job, not ours. Ours is to love. And loving is not a cop- out. For we are to ‘overcome evil with good’ (Rom 12:21). Love has a power and a strength greater than evil, as demonstrated in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Love has conquered, and continues to do so as we choose to live in the way of love. So, some questions to ask ourselves this week in light of this…
- Are there particular sins you have not truly believed God has forgiven you of? Bring these before him and ask him to help you receive his complete forgiveness.
- Who do you need to forgive?
- How can you show them the love of Christ?
- How can you ‘overcome’ an act of evil with good this week?