Thoughts On Forgiveness…
As we finish up our study of selected passages in Genesis,
let’s dig into Genesis 45:1-15: HERE.
To understand the awesomeness of the forgiveness that the LORD
grew in Joseph, we have to remember the details of the sin
of Joseph’s brothers:
- resented Joseph/were jealous of him
- originally wanted & planned to kill him
- instead “only” chose to throw him down a well and sell him as a slave
- lied to their father and caused him much suffering
by saying that Joseph was killed by a wild animal,
including tearing up his beloved robe–made by Jacob!–
and covering it in animal blood.
That’s pretty dysfunctional, even by today’s standards.
So let’s look at the details of Joseph’s forgiveness to his brothers:
- asked them to come near to him
- identified with them—“I am your brother”
- named the wrong they did to him (didn’t sweep it under the rug)
- was concerned with their heart, what they were feeling
(“don’t be distressed, don’t punish yourselves over this”)
- realized the sovereignty of God, God’s control and plan
to bring good out of his suffering
- wept tears over his brothers
- spoke kindly to them, talked with them, didn’t avoid/ignore them
(which often passes as forgiveness)
- promised to bless them and their children
Those are some details of Joseph’s forgiveness,
but HOW did God plant & grow
such fruitful forgiveness in Joseph’s heart?
We don’t know those details. In the years of Joseph’s
slavery & imprisonment & employment under Pharoah—
around 22 years—
God was powerfully at work in Joseph’s heart
while Joseph was suffering & separated.
This type of forgiveness wasn’t natural to Joseph,
wasn’t an indigenous fruit/grass that automatically grew there.
God grew it in Him.
Instead of lava, the LORD grew love in Joseph,
instead of bitterness & revenge stewing in Joseph’s heart over the years,
the LORD created & simmered real compassion, mercy & forgiveness,
preparing him internally for this reunion with his brothers externally.
Let’s look to some other passages in the Bible
to learn some ways that God grows such forgiveness in us &
what we are to do to partner with Him as He does,
how we can put ourselves in a position for Him to grow forgiveness in us.
Delicate topic…many of us have deep hurt with exposed nerves.
My hope is to point you to Christ &
not point my finger in your wound…
- Remember your debt that the Lord Jesus has forgiven.
If you are in Christ Jesus by faith alone,
we are to forgive horizontally because He has forgiven us vertically.
Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive one another
if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
[Not forgive as you feel like it, not forgive as the person deserves it;
forgive as the Lord forgave you.]
Matthew 18:21-35: Please click HERE.
2. Ask the Father to help us see them as He sees them.
Matthew 9:36-38: “When [Jesus] saw the crowds,
he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless,
like sheep without a shepherd.
37 Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore,
to send out workers into his harvest field.”
As the Lord Jesus looked at the crowds of sinners–us!–
He had compassion.
Though they were absolutely responsible for their sin,
He also saw that they were enslaved by their sin.
In other words, He saw the root of people’s sin, not just the weed,
He saw the big-picture—they needed Him & so He had compassion.
My dear friends, do we realize this regarding the non-Christians
who hurt us? They need Christ, they need salvation & reconciliation
with God the Father, they need Him even more than they need
to learn to apologize & be kind to us.
And when Christians hurt us, do we see that their biggest need
is closer fellowship with Christ
which will bring about their personal behavioral transformation?
If a starving person were mean to us, realizing that they’re starving
should help us to be patient. Their meanness is still wrong,
but their need is different. We would hopefully look to share food
with them, even before trying to get them to apologize and be nice to us.
Oh may we share the Bread of Life, Jesus,
with those who hurt us,
may we see their deep need of Him and have compassion…
3. Pray that the LORD would spread His fame
by sparing & blessing & transforming those who hurt us.
Numbers 14:10-19: Please click HERE.
Moses prayed for the grumbling Israelites,
even though they wanted to overthrow, undermine & kill him.
Moses was concerned about the LORD’s name/fame/reputation,
so Moses prayed for God to have mercy on the Israelites.
Think how the Lord Jesus would be praised
if He saved & radically transformed those who’ve hurt us,
if He turned their character & behavior around 180 degrees.
Think of the fact that we might be the only Christians
truly praying for them in this way.
If not us, then who?
4. Ask the Holy Spirit To Soften Our Hearts
Thru His Power & His Word.
Matthew 24:12-13: “Because of the increase of wickedness,
the love of most will grow cold,
but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
The Lord Jesus said the love of most will grow cold
due to the increase of wickedness…
most likely both the wickedness around us
and the wickedness that we allow to thrive in us.
In the end, other people cant make our hearts hard/cold;
we’re responsible for our responses,
we’re to put ourselves in positions each day/week/month/year
for our Father the Gardener to prune us & make us fruitful.
- Though conditions outside are frigid,we can keep our bodies warm with proper winter clothing.
So let’s clothe ourselves in the power & presence of Jesus Christ
& His Gospel, reminding ourselves what it cost Him
to adopt & make alive & transform us…
doing this will help our hearts stay warm inside
no matter how chilly people treat us on the outside.
5. Finally, Understand God’s Definition Of Strength
Joshua 1: “Be strong and courageous.”
The word translated strong is the Hebrew word hazaq,
to be strong, be courageous, strengthen, support.
- “Importantly, this word is also used in reference to construction
or repair work, specifically in repairing the Temple.”
(NIV Hebrews-Greek KeyWord Study Bible).
Like reinforced concrete, necessary for building skyscrapers.
My dear friends, we need to cry out to our Father to strengthen us,
to make us hazaq, to repair us so that we can forgive others.
Our sin & others’ sin has made it hard for us to forgive,
like walking on a broken leg, we need the LORD to repair us,
to give us strength.
Doesn’t mean we wait to forgive
until after we feel strong enough to forgive,
we forgive AS the Holy Spirit repairs us,
just as He lives in us AS He transforms us,
not until after we’re transformed.
He repairs us as we
- ask Him for this hazaq, this repaired strength,
- as we repent of our hard & cold hearts,
- as we think about Christ’s cross & blood.
The beautiful painting of forgiveness for others must be hung,
not in the flimsy drywall of
- our strength,
- our feelings,
- because we’re supposed to,
- or even the other person’s apology/remorse,
but in the sturdy stud of Christ’s forgiveness for us thru His blood,
the sturdy stud of the Holy Spirit’s presence & power in us,
behind our drywall.
Anchor your forgiveness in the stud of Jesus.
He’s the hazaq, God’s reinforced strength,
needed to truly forgive others.
One of the biggest challenges to forgiveness
is our often subconscious thought,
“If I forgive them, then they just got away with what they did.
Where’s the justice!?”
My dear friends, no one gets away with any of their sins:
either they pay for their sins forever,
or Christ paid on the cross.
Either way, we are avenged, justice is served.
Not that we should want the person to pay…
we need the Holy Spirit’s help so we truly desire
that they trust in the Lord Jesus through repentance & faith,
so that He pays for the wrong they did to us…
Oh we must remember the cross.
If the person who wronged you is a Christian,
look to Christ and His suffering as the payment,
let it soothe your anger.
If the person who wronged you is not a Christian,
look to Christ and His suffering
and pray earnestly for that person
to receive the Lord Jesus as their Savior & King.
There are few things you can do that are more like Jesus,
more honoring to Him,
than genuinely praying for the salvation
of those who have wronged you…