Living Like Jesus

“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.” So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass 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. Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.” Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? “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. “Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

Genesis 50:15-21

Here is a thought for today. What if you and I cared as much about the hurt we have caused as much as we care about the hurt that has been caused to us? It’s been well said that forgiveness is a beautiful thing until we have to put it into practice yet, forgiveness is something that when it is offered completely baffles the human mind. It’s almost beyond our ability to comprehend. We are never more like Jesus than when we forgive and never more like the Devil than when we don’t. We have all been at one time or another where Joseph’s brothers are in Genesis 50. We have wronged somebody and they have forgiven us but the relationship is still strained in a sense due to our inability to believe we are truly forgiven, because we know how our own mind works.

It’s been said in America, “We are not a people who truly forgive, we simply forget.” We have a tendency to even say at times we have forgiven someone only to bring up the offense again at a later date. Joseph’s brothers are assuming that is the case here. They have this suspicion that their brother will finally be able to “get even” now that their father has died. They must be thinking Joseph was just delaying his gratification of vengeance on them all these years? Why, because that’s what they would have done. Like many people, Joseph’s brothers harbor ill in their heart and then lie in wait. Sad but true! What they should have done and what we all do well to do is, “Forgive others as quickly as you expect the Lord to forgive you.” You need to stop remembering what God has forgotten.

Joseph is a portrait of grace and how we should all respond when others treat us unfairly. Joseph understood that, “compassion will cure more sins than condemnation ever could.” It has been said that when we forgive we stop trying to play God. I like that analogy. God is the judge, the only righteous judge, who, if He gave us what we all deserve, we’d be in hell right now. But the bible says in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” When you and I forgive one another we release others from our own personal judgment. That doesn’t mean the person isn’t guilty, it just means I am not going to stand in judgment over them because that’s God’s job and besides, I know how much God has forgiven me.

Often times our problem is “we judge other people by their actions, and we judge ourselves by our intentions.” It’s as if to say we always want the best even though it might not appear that way to others. We lie to ourselves at times to protect ourselves from ourselves. The bible makes it perfectly clear, “that the heart is deceitful above all things and who can know it”. We are capable of anything, even forgiveness if the Holy Spirit abides in us.

Joseph gives us a picture of the love and grace and mercy of God. He proves once and again that people need love most when they deserve it least. Joseph had a lot of time to think about vengeance when his brothers sold him into slavery. I believe Joseph learned a lesson that God desires to work into our lives as well. Unforgiveness does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than it ever does onto the vessel it is poured. It has been said, “What really matters in life is what happens IN us not what happens TO us”. I agree.  Have you been wronged or have you wronged someone else? Walk in forgiveness. Offer it when offended, seek it when you are the offender and your heart will experience peace. Get in the Word of God and focus on the Cross and the victory it gives us over unforgiveness.

You might be thinking what is the bible going to do for me and my need to forgive or be forgiven? Great question! Psalm 119:165 says, “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” Translated, nothing will cause them to be “offended”. People who know the Word of God are not easily offended. They know that people are by their old nature sinners, that we are nothing more than dirt that God has breathed life into. At our core we are mud. To know what God knows about us helps us to love, to accept and to forgive one another.  We are reminded that it was at Calvary where our sins and all the sins of mankind were nailed. It was there at Calvary Jesus bore our sin, He bore our guilt, and He bore our shame so that we could enjoy Him and one another, living in harmony and unity together. As C.S. Lewis once said, “To be a Christian is to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

Maybe you need to forgive someone today? Listen to the words of Jesus. “When you are praying, if you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins.” Maybe you need to be forgiven? Isaiah the prophet says, ‘The Lord says’, “Come, let us talk about these things. Though your sins are like scarlet, they can be white as snow. Though your sins are deep red, they can be white as wool.” Start at the Cross; that’s where God took care of it all. Ask Him for forgiveness or release the sin committed against you. Joseph did and discovered that God was working out His perfect plan all along. Don’t miss the blessing of God loved one by harboring an ill in your heart against yourself or others. A friend of mine once said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” It’s true and is why Jesus commands us to forgive for He knows if we don’t our unforgiveness will not only hurt others, but in the end it will destroy us.

Yes, loved one, Jesus is our example on how to live and how to forgive. Determine to not only live like Jesus today but determine to forgive like Jesus too, and you might just baffle somebody’s mind, maybe even your own. If you find it difficult to forgive others for the hurts that they have caused you focus on the Cross and remember it was my sin and your sin too that Jesus died to forgive. If not for forgiveness heaven would be an empty place! If you feel like you just don’t have the strength to forgive, keep this in mind today,

“I (YOU) can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”

Philippians 4:13

I LOVE YOU!

Michael Osthimer

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