Forgiveness on Purpose

Last week we considered belonging to Our Heavenly Father.

We saw that

If We Belong to Our Heavenly Father We Can…

  • Do the impossible (loving our enemies)
  • See through Our Father’s eyes (forgive)
  • See our future with Our Father (trust Him)

So, today I want to continue with this theme, and look at forgiveness.

Forgiveness is something we need to receive, and something we need to do.

Without forgiveness,

  • we can’t do the impossible with God
  • nor can we see through His eyes,
  • nor do we have a future worth trusting Him for.

Christian scholar and writer, C. S. Lewis, said this about forgiveness and the Christian:

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” 

C.S. Lewis

Jon Krakauer states this about forgiveness in his book, Into the Wild:

“When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines upon you.”

Jon Krakauer, “Into the Wild

We need to be willing to forgive each other, even when we make mistakes by accident.

We’ve heard it said, “forgive me, it was an accident…I didn’t offend you on purpose.”

Well, we generally don’t forgive by accident, but it must be a purposeful action.

“Forgiveness on Purpose.”

When I think of forgiveness, I know that it can only be done on purpose.

Otherwise, bitterness roots into our lives, and forgiveness becomes more difficult.

Mankind has a tendency to remember and to have hurt feelings which make it harder to forgive.

Today, I want us to think of two people and their journey to forgiveness:

One is Joseph

The other is Donna Miner, John’s wife. The Miners have been worshipping with us for a couple months. Clover and I heard Donna’s story this week, and we want you to hear it, too.

But first, let me recap the story of Joseph:

God promised Abraham that his name would be great and he would be blessed…and that all nations would be blessed through him.

Abraham’s great-grandson, Joseph, was one of the first from Abraham to see this being fulfilled.

Joseph was one of 12 sons of Jacob (aka, “Israel”), and he made Abraham’s Name great by bringing Jacob’s family to Egypt.

He blessed many nations by correctly interpreting the dreams of Pharaoh.

By doing this, Joseph saved his family, in particular, Levi, through whom Moses would come, and Judah, through whom Jesus would come.

As we look at the story of Joseph, we see that he was the favorite son from his favorite wife. Talk about a blended family! And there was strife in Jacob’s home.

Joseph gave his father a bad report about his brothers.

Jacob gave Joseph special clothing that distinguished him from the rest of his brothers

So,

  • as an informant,
  • as a favorite, and
  • as the oldest son of the weakest mother,

Joseph was not liked by his brothers.

So, they sold him as a slave. Then they told their father, Jacob, that Joseph had been killed, and gave him Joseph’s clothing with goat’s blood on it as proof. TALK ABOUT FAKE NEWS.

But, Joseph LANDED in Egypt, and became the chief servant of a public official. But, due to some unsavory circumstances, Joseph was falsely accused of a crime, and found himself in prison.

So,

  • far from home,
  • in a foreign prison cell,

Joseph waited.

One day, two servants of the Pharaoh had dreams.

Joseph interpreted the dreams, and they both came true.

Joseph asked the Cupbearer to tell Pharaoh about him, but he forgot.

After two years, Pharaoh had a disturbing dream an wanted interpretation.

Then, the cupbearer remembered Joseph.

Joseph was able to interpret the dream…

which was a forecast of an environmental cataclysm, a famine. Within the dream was the formula to protect Egypt and the surrounding nations, including Israel, from starvation.

Joseph was immediately made second in command of Egypt and began to save the nation.

Joseph arranged for food to be stored over a seven-year period, and then controlled the distribution of the food over a second seven-year period.

During that time, Josephs family began to suffer from the famine.

The brothers went to Egypt looking for food. Joseph

  • recognized them and
  • tested them,
  • eventually he revealed himself to them, and had his whole family move to Egypt.

When his father died in Egypt, his brothers worried, wondering if Joseph would kill them or not.

And I wonder, too,

Why didn’t Joseph kill his brothers?

I want to read a few verses from when Joseph was in prison:

But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Genesis 39:20-23

And let’s look at 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.

Colossians 3:13 

PRAY

Why didn’t Joseph kill his brothers?

Because…

  1. Joseph Recognized God

“The Lord Was With Joseph.”

He was Emmanuel to Joseph (“God with us”)

When we recognize that God is with us, no matter where we are, life is different.

Bitter roots cannot grow under the radiation of God’s Light and God’s Love.

Why didn’t Joseph kill his brothers?

  1. Joseph Recognized God’s Hand

Joseph recognized that God was at work in his life.  He said to his brothers. Yes, they harmed him, but God had a purpose.

When we can see this, then we can have peace. Joseph saw God’s hand, he saw God’s purpose, and he was obedient and compliant.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 

Genesis 50:18-20

Joseph could have withheld food from his brothers. He could have executed his brothers and their families.

Why didn’t Joseph kill his brothers?

I believe that …

  1. Joseph Forgave His Brothers

We, too, need to forgive and forget…

We often speak of how hard it is to forget the offense, but, sometimes, it seems hard to remember that we have forgiven.

Last week, we looked at how we Belong to the Father, and one of the ways that we do this is to forgive.

We are to pray, “forgive our trespasses (or sins) as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us.

If we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven, either.

Joseph seemed to understand that, and was able to forgive.

Clover and I met with John and Donna Miner this week. They have been with us for over a month, now, and they are enjoying our fellowship here.

Donna shared with us a story, that I want you to hear, today.

So, I will invite Donna here to share with us.

[Donna to share]

Did you hear how Donna was ready to forgive and had done so, when she received a letter from her mother, who had asked for forgiveness from Donna.

They had a wonderful relationship after this.

Donna and her mother had FORGIVENESS ON PURPOSE.

Not every story of forgiveness is like that.

Sometimes we forgive, even though the soldiers continue to crucify us.

Jesus didn’t ask God to forgive them so that they would stop, but because he loved them.

As God in the flesh, He saw them as HIS creation, and yet they were so wrong.

As Joseph looked at his brothers and saw them as valuable to God, so valuable they, unwittingly, sent Joseph to prison, and it saved their lives and millions more.

Had Joseph killed them, the story would not have been told in the same way.

And, Judah, through whom, Jesus was to be born, would have been killed.

Surely God would have raised up another family for the Messiah to come through, but think of the power of forgiveness.

It sets things in motion for generations and millennia.

“Once we understand the depth of our sin and the distance it placed between us and God—and once we get a glimpse of the sacrifice He made to restore fellowship with us—we should not hesitate to forgive.”

Charles Stanley

Let’s be people of forgiveness.

Forgiveness on purpose.

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