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THE TEST OF FORGIVENESS

November 22, 2014

Forgive 1. To give up resentment against or stop wanting to punish (someone) for an offense or fault; pardon. 2. To relent in being angry or in wishing to exact punishment for (an offense or fault). 3. To absolve from payment of (a debt, for example).

One of the most challenging acts to do in life is to forgive someone that has hurt you, and everyone that lives will experience many opportunities to forgive and to be forgiven. Whether you are able to do so displays your willingness to adhere to the Word and your understanding of the freedom and release in your spirit and soul which avails itself to you when you can move beyond the offense. Satan wants us to hold on to unforgiveness for he knows when we do, we remain in bondage to our offender. Thus, the truth of the matter is, forgiveness is more beneficial to the offended than for the offender.

A good example of a person who was offended at various stages of his life is Joseph. He suffered, but in the end, he overcame and was victorious. Let me share some of those significant crushing events. The life story of Joseph the eleventh son of Jacob and first son born to Rachel can be found in Genesis 30,37-50.

For many years after the marriage of Jacob and Rachel, Rachel appeared to be barren and unable to conceive. Finally, God opened up Rachel’s womb, and she conceived and bore a son who became the apple of his father’s eye. Jacob made Joseph a coat of many colors which represented royalty, and he favored Joseph over his brothers, causing them to be jealous of him. In his youth, Joseph also informed his father of his brother’s wrongdoings which further infuriated them, and then he had two dreams about him being superior to family members which he shared with them, and this caused his brother when the opportunity presented itself to sell him into slavery to Ishmaelite traders.

At age seventeen, Joseph, who received preferred treatment, was now a slave. The Ishmaelite traders sold Joseph to Potiphar, a captain of the guard of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and Joseph became a servant in Potiphar’s house. The spirit of excellence was on Joseph, causing Potiphar to promote Joseph to the position of personal attendant eventually. Joseph’s beauty and physique appeared enticing to Potiphar’s wife, who continually attempted to allure Joseph into committing fornication with her, but he resisted her. When she saw her attempts were failing, she told her husband Joseph tried to rape her, and he put Joseph in prison.

In prison, the spirit of excellence continued to rest on Joseph, and before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of prison activities and the other prisoners. During this time, two of the king’s servants offended the king, and he put them in prison. Both of these men had a dream which Joseph interpreted and just like his interpretation: one was killed and the other restored to the service of the king. Joseph made this request to the restored servant, “But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon” (Genesis 40:14-15). However, the servant forgot about Joseph until two years had passed, and the king had a dream that no one was able to interpret, and then he remembered and told the king about Joseph.

The king immediately sent for the thirty years old Joseph, who appeared before him after he had shaven and changed his garments. Joseph interpreted the king’s dream about seven years of prosperity, followed by seven years of famine. The king was pleased with Joseph’s interpretation and advice, so, he put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt to collect and store crop during the time of plenty for the time of famine. This is the king’s words and actions toward Joseph, “Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On” (Genesis 41:39-45).

During the time of prosperity, two sons were born to Joseph. Genesis 41:51-52 states, “And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” The name of his sons reflected the pain, inner turmoil, and emotional scars that Joseph had experienced for thirteen years. He was wounded by his brothers, the Ishmaelite traders who mistreated  him  and put him in shackles, Potiphar and his wife, and the restored servant who forgot him for two years. Now, he was ready to move on with his life, not realizing he was going to be confronted with his brothers in the near future.

During the second year of famine, famine had spread to the land of Canaan, and Jacob sent his ten older sons down to Egypt to buy grain. The youngest son, Benjamin who was the son born to Joseph’s mother Rachel, who had died during that birth, he kept home with him. Genesis 42:6-9 states, “And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth. And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them.” Joseph chooses not to reveal himself to his brother but instead test their feelings to his younger brother Benjamin.

How Joseph tested them, and their response can be found in Genesis 42-45. Joseph finally reveals to them who he was with these words, “Come near to me, I pray you. I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty. And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither” (Genesis 45:3-9). Joseph did not berate, mistreat, or condemn his brothers, but he wept, kissed them, and sent them loaded with goods back to Canaan to get his father and their households.

His brothers went back to Canaan and brought Jacob to Egypt where he has united once again with the son he loved dearly. As he stated, Joseph took care of his brethren and their households even after their father Jacob died, and his brothers thought he might retaliate on them. Joseph once again reassured, comforted and spoke kindly to them with these words, “Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones” (Genesis 50:19-21). Apparently, despite the pain, we may experience, God has a purpose for it all.

Joseph’s actions show us forgiveness must be continually maintained and not allow the hurts from the offense to resurface. Since we know Satan is out to steal our joy, we must use our knowledge and spiritual weapons to combat his schemes. Simply put, with the help of God we must forgive and move on; for in so doing we will pass the test of forgiveness.

From → Test Series

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