If you’ll remember, Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave when he was a teenager. Could you forgive your own brothers for selling you as a slave?
Genesis 50:15 – When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” (Verse16) So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, (Verse 17) ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespasses of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ‘Now, please forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” ‘ And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
(Verse 18) Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.” (Verse 19) Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? (Verse 20) But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. (Verse 21) “Now, therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
The only way that Joseph could have spoken kindly to them was if he had already dealt with the issue of forgiveness in his heart. This is the first time the word “forgive” is in the Bible, Chapter 50 in the book of Genesis. It means to absolve or release from penalty. This Hebrew word is also translated to mean “to lift up”, “to bear.” That is exactly what Jesus did for us. He lifted “off” our sin, trespasses, transgressions, off of us, thereby placing it on Himself and releasing us from the penalty of death.
Here’s the thing: If we can’t learn to pardon or forgive people, we cannot fulfill the destiny God has for our life! I know this is hard to do because people can be horrible to us and others, but there are three keywords to remember:
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they sent messengers to him saying that their father commanded Joseph to forgive them. Could this have been a lie from the brothers? Did their father really command Joseph to forgive them? We have no record of Jacob saying this on his deathbed. Can you not see those brothers saying, “Don’t ask for him to forgive us, tell him our father commanded it.” Then they said for the servants to tell him, “The servants of the God of your father.” They thought if they put God in there it would sound stronger!
Did you notice the brothers never repented of the evil they had done to Joseph? When they came to Joseph, they said, “We are your servants.” That’s not repentance! So, can we forgive someone who lies and manipulates and never asks for forgiveness? That’s the true pardon test! However, here is what Joseph answered them: “Am I in the place of God?” So if we don’t forgive, we put ourselves in the place of God.
Leviticus 19:18 – “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”
Romans 12:19 – Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the LORD.
Here is why we are not to take vengeance: Because to bring vengeance means to bring justice to an unjust situation. And that is impossible for us to do. Why can we not bring justice to an unjust situation? Because we are not “just!” A big difference in being “just” and being “justified.” We’ve been made “justified” by the only One Just! If we live our lives with unforgiveness, we will always be trying to avenge ourselves. Vengeance will make a person try to prove something all the time.
However, if we release them, the wrong they did will be released. We know they were wrong and did wrong, but we don’t forgive people who are right or do what’s right. We forgive the ones that did wrong. God knows very well they did us wrong! If it’s still going through our minds, over and over, then we haven’t forgiven them in our hearts. God doesn’t go through our sins or wrongs through His mind over and over and neither should we.
Matthew 6:12 – “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtor.” That word “as” means “in the same way.” So here’s what we pray, “Lord, forgive me in the same way I forgive others.” If we keep bringing up the wrong someone has done to us, then we have not forgiven in the same way that God has forgiven us! God doesn’t keep reminding us of our sin, so why should we do that to others?
“Freely we have received, freely we give.” We have freely received forgiveness, therefore, we can freely give forgiveness. If a person feels in any way that they are earning forgiveness or paying for it, they will make others pay or earn their forgiveness.
When we as believers, have something go wrong or something bad happens to us, God is not getting us back! Please don’t look at everything bad that happens in your life as God getting you back, and now we are even. That’s not true, but you wouldn’t believe the times I’ve heard people actually say that. All our punishment and penalty for sin was placed on Jesus. God is never going to get even with His children.
Psalm 103:12 – As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Isaiah 53:6 – All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, everyone, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Habakkuk 1:13 – You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness.
Job 36:7 – “He does not withdraw His eyes from the righteous.” So God can’t look on evil, wickedness, but He never withdraws His eyes off the righteous.
1 Peter 3:12 – For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears open to their prayers… So who is righteous?
2 Corinthians 5:21 – For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Do you realize that something had to be done with our sin just so God could look at us? He did do something, He placed our sin on Jesus at the cross, rose Him from the grave so that we could become the righteousness of God in Jesus. We as believers are the righteousness of God in Him. so now His eyes are forever on us! Not only can He look at us but He can walk with us, talk with us, and have a deep loving relationship with us! And God did this for the whole world, they just need to believe and accept what Jesus did for them.
And because we, I, believe and understand that, I am able to forgive others. Bitterness towards another is like drinking poison over and over. “Freely we received forgiveness, freely we forgive!”