Today's Text and Thought for Encouragement:
“Then Judah came near unto (Joseph), and said, ‘Oh my Lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh.”
Genesis 44: 18
King James Version
“The Rotten Redeemed”
“He (or she) is lifeless that is faultless.”
How do I treat others who have made mistakes in their lives?
How do I treat myself when I make a mistake?
”Forgiveness does not mean the cancellation of all consequences of wrong doing. It means the refusal on God’s part to let our guilty past affect His relationship with us.”
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 3: 23, 24
King James Version
There are so many lessons we can learn from the life of Joseph. Yesterday, we saw how the evil heaped on us by others can be turned into Heaven’s blessings, not only on our own lives but also for the benefit of others.
Today, we will look at another lesson from the life of Joseph – and it is the recognition that none of us are perfect. We all have faults. And because we all make mistakes, we ALL need to look to our heavenly Father for redemption through Jesus Christ.
But I want to take this lesson one step further today.
I’m going to ask you a very personal question. Have you ever met someone in your life, maybe even someone in your family, who after seeing their behavior year-after-year, you came to the conclusion they were so wicked and had gone so far down the path of evil, it was unlikely they would ever find their way back?
If we all are honest, I believe we can say that in our lives we’ve all gotten tangled up with some rotten individuals. I know I have – and some of my entanglements were brought about by my own folly.
Having gone through some rough patches in my own life and realizing that often we all end-up being hardest on ourselves, even unforgiving of ourselves, I’ve also had to come face to face with the wonderful truth that I have no right to remember what God has forgotten. I must not continually beat myself up for mistakes God has forgiven, and neither should you.
But there’s something else I’ve learned. When I am able to forgive myself, I am able to forgive others, as well.
The forgiveness of God is an ocean.
God’s forgiveness is not a trickle. It’s not a small creek. It’s not a stagnant pond. It’s a vast ocean. As the writer Frederick Faber penned: “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea; for the love of God is broader, than the measure of our mind.”
It is God’s merciful forgiveness that looks at someone you and I might call “evil” or “hopeless” and extends to them the gift of redemption. Just look at how God reached down into a Babylonian prison and touched the heart of Manasseh, King of Judah, a person whom the Bible tells us “caused his children to pass through the fire; and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards; and he set a carved image, the idol which he made, in the house of God” (2 Chronicles 33: 6,7, K.J.V). I don’t know how much more rotten a person could become. He even went so far as to have Isaiah, God’s prophet, murdered during his reign of terror.
What did God do? Listen to these words: “And when he (Manasseh) was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him; and he (God) was entreated of Manasseh and heard his supplication” (2 Chronicles 33: 12, 13, K.J.V.).
Unlike we sometimes do, God didn’t say, “Well, he says he’s sorry now but he’s only sorry because he got caught.” Nor did God say, “I’ll put this wretch on probation and see if he means what he says. I’ll watch him for 5 years and if he makes no future mistakes, I’ll think about forgiving him.”
This is not what the Bible says. In fact, God brought Manasseh back to the throne in Jerusalem. Talk about being given a second chance!
Someone else we’ve met in the past few weeks was also given a second chance. Interestingly, he had something in common with Manasseh – a tribe – Judah.
Yes, believe it or not, remember that rotten Judah who disrespected Tamar, his daughter-in-law and in a place where he thought no one would see him he hired the services of a “harlot.” Then, “Mr. Moral,” himself, when he heard his unmarried daughter-in-law was pregnant, ordered that she should be burned to death, only to find out he was the father of her child. Talk about a creep?
But Judah had more skeletons in his closet, especially when it came to his treatment of his brother, Joseph. Genesis 37: 26 reveals to us that it was Judah, no less, who came up with the horrid idea of selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites. At the time Joseph was only seventeen years old, and his older brother Judah was willing to get rid of him for 20 pieces of silver. Two pieces for each of the 10 brothers.
The Bible tells us Joseph was 30-years-old when he first stood before Pharaoh so by the time his brothers arrived in Egypt, it is likely Joseph was close to 40. And who do we find coming to Joseph, wanting to have a private conversation, none other than Judah. A brother who once said about Joseph:… “What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come let us sell him to the Ishmeelites” ….(Genesis 37: 26, 27). In other words, Judah’s attitude was “Let’s not kill him, we won’t get anything out of the deal. Let’s sell him and make a little money instead.”
Now, nearly 25 years later, a different Judah is speaking to Joseph, begging for the life of his brother Benjamin, “Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father” (Genesis 44: 33, 34, K.J.V.).
What a change! From Judah who was always looking out for me, me, me – we see a contrite man whose concern was for his father. And think back if you will to the words of Joseph when the shrewd Mrs. Potiphar was trying to seduce him. These were Joseph’s words, “How can I do this and sin against my Father?”
Do you notice a similarity here? From concern for self, the concern became for the “Father.” Why? Because both these men ended up with hearts molded by their Heavenly Father.
Joseph, whose life of purity had exemplified a forgiving spirit all throughout his terrible treatment at home and in Egypt, was filled with an ocean of heaven’s forgiveness. And he graciously opened his heart and bestowed this gift to the very brother who had done him wrong and sold him.
Joseph didn’t give Judah conditions for forgiveness. He just forgave him. He gave his brother the same forgiveness he had received in his life. No holier-than-thou-attitude. No probation. No, “You’ve got to prove yourself.” No snickering behind his back or pointing or gossiping. Just forgiveness – the past was washed away.
William Cowper wrote the beautiful hymn, “There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins, And sinners plunged beneath the flood, Lose all their guilty stains.” When I do my wash, and a piece of clothing has a stain, after the wash the stain is removed. And guess what? It doesn’t take long before I can’t even remember where that stain was.
Isn’t this the way we should treat each other? For after heaven’s wash – all our stains are gone – every one of them – forever!
“The sinner of today is the saint of tomorrow. Wherefore, unmindful of the sins and short comings of our neighbors, let us look to our own imperfections, surely forgetting what God has forgotten: sins truly repented, which God has forgotten, we have no business to remember.”
“My failure to be true even to my own accepted standards:
My self-deception in face of temptation:
My choosing of the worse when I know the better:
O Lord, forgive.
My failure to apply to myself the standards of conduct I demand of others:
My blindness to the suffering of others and my slowness to be taught by my own:
My complacence towards wrongs that do not touch my own case and my over-sensitiveness to those that do:
My slowness to see the good in my fellows and to see the evil in myself:
My hardness of heart towards my neighbours’ faults and my readiness to make allowance for my own:
O Lord, forgive.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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