“Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said. But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21 No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.” – Genesis 50:18-21.
Do you remember white out correction fluid? It is the magical liquid that covers over your errors, your typos, your unfortunate slip-ups. You brush on the liquid and start all over again–hopefully this time with no unfortunate slip-ups. It was used when typewriters were used so you can correct a mistake without typing the whole document over again. Forgiveness is much like that. It does not eliminate the hurts or pain, but it does cover them over in a way that they never really happened.
People often think that forgiving others is letting them off the hook. Forgiving others benefits others not me. The opposite is true. We are the ones who receive the most benefit from forgiveness, not the person we need to forgive. Forgiving others does not require a lot of research or thought. We do not need to weigh the severity of what we need to forgive as the determining factor on whether we should forgive or not. God has not qualified or quantified one sin over another as being worthy of forgiveness. What this means is God is not saying, “If a person lies to you or steals from you, you should forgive him, but if they harm your family you should not forgive them.” There is no wiggle room. God is telling us to forgive everyone, always, and do it immediately.
True forgiveness is an act of love because forgiveness is the most Christ-like act a Christian can do. Never are you more Christ-like than when you forgive, because that is what Christ does. The personification of forgiveness is when Jesus looked at His crucifiers and said, “…Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing..” (Luke 23:34)
A prime example of forgiveness is the story of Joseph. When presented with an opportunity to exact vengeance on his brothers, Joseph chose, instead, to point them to the overarching plan that God has for His glory: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 60:20) Joseph served a God that enabled Him to love those who had sinned against Him.
We serve the same God. We serve a God who enables us to love and forgive others, not of our own power, but from God’s forgiveness that has radically changed our view of the world. Because Jesus loves, we love. Because He forgave, we forgive.
- What do you dislike about the idea of forgiving? What do you like about it?
- Why do you think forgiveness takes courage?