‘So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.’ (Genesis 45:4-5)
Joseph was in a position to take revenge on his brothers, since he was a mighty ruler and they were just a group of helpless foreigners. But Joseph did not misuse his position. He did not punish his brothers, he did not even scold them, but said “do not be angry with yourselves…”. Isn’t that unbelievable?
Joseph’s behavior makes me think of Jesus Christ, for “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
Joseph’s behavior is not natural. It flows from his own relationship with a gracious and forgiving God. This same connection is also mentioned by Jesus when He gives his disciples a sample prayer: “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). And the apostle Paul urges his readers: “as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13).
Joseph had gone through a lot of suffering and experienced how the Lord was with him in the midst of all his hardships, and that had shaped his character. He had been “conformed to the image of the Son of God”, which the apostle Paul writes is God’s purpose with those who love God (Romans 8:28-29).
How do you react when people have done you wrong? Do you take revenge, or do you forgive?