The Bible is filled with examples of those who acted rightly even when wronged. Our Lord Jesus, of course, is the perfect model. But today I offer you a word of encouragement from the life of Joseph, who acted rightly in the face of being terribly wronged by those closest to him . . . his own brothers.
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt. (Genesis 37:26-28)
It’s hard to fully comprehend just how wronged Joseph was by his brothers. They hated him for the dreams God gave him and the favor their father showed him. So they decided to throw him into a pit and leave him to die. Then they sat and ate a meal, ignoring Joseph’s cries for mercy; after giving the matter more thought, they decided to sell Joseph into slavery . . . which was basically the same thing. When we read that Joseph was taken to Egypt, that was as much a death sentence as it would have been leaving him in the pit. Egyptian slaves were worked until they died. Joseph’s brothers never expected to see him again.
But God had other plans.
After 13 years of separation from everything he knew and suffering at the hands of pagan foreigners, accused of a crime he did not commit, and locked away in a prison cell, never to be heard from again, Joseph emerges as a picture of God’s amazing grace. Instead of being filled with anger and seeking vengeance against his brothers for his unimaginable and unjust circumstances, when given the opportunity for a little “payback,” Joseph acted rightly . . . in spite of being wronged.
After a famine in the land brought his brothers before him begging for food, Joseph uttered these extraordinary words:
“What you meant for evil, God intended for good!” (Genesis 50:21)
How was that possible? How could Joseph deal so kindly with those who were so cruel to him? It is simply because Joseph trusted in God even when he could not trace Him. Joseph kept his focus on God and not on his circumstances. If he had not, he would have become bitter and hateful. This, of course, would have diminished his ability to grow his service in the court of Pharaoh, and Joseph would have been heard from no more. But because of his Godward focus, Joseph knew God works everything for his own ends (Proverbs 16:4); he knew that “from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36). Joseph knew that one day God would make the dreams He had given Joseph a reality, and ultimately God’s purposes would be accomplished through him.
With the power to punish his brothers who so wronged him, Joseph instead offered forgiveness and mercy, and he has gone down in history as a picture of God’s amazing grace of acting rightly even when wronged.
So . . . who needs to hear a word of forgiveness and grace from you this day?
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!