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Monday | Forgiveness & Justice
In Genesis 45:1–4, Joseph is faced with a dilemma that goes unmentioned by Moses, the author of Genesis. Justice or Forgiveness. Should he execute justice on his brothers, which he was more than capable of doing with them at his mercy? Or should he choose to forgive them? It’s a question with which many of us wrestle in the areas of our deepest hurt.
1. Do you feel like you have to forego justice in order to forgive people?
2. Is there a relationship right now in which you are wrestling with this problem?
What Joseph understood is that forgiveness and justice are different things altogether and are not at all mutually exclusive. Forgiveness takes place between you and the person who sinned against you. Justice, on the other hand, takes place between God and the person who sinned against you. Joseph understood that it was not his place to oversee or to execute justice for the wrongs done to him.
3. Read Romans 12:19. How does this challenge your view of justice in your relationships?
4. How might entrusting the job of executing justice to God release you to forgive some of your deepest hurts?
Read Romans 12:19 again. Think about that statement from God: “Vengeance is mine.” This statement comes out of the passionate and personal love of God for you. You have a Father who is fiercely protective of you and whose heart aches and whose anger burns when you are sinned against. You don’t have to stand up for yourself and demand justice because you have a Father who is standing up for you. This truth frees us to release the duty of vengeance and justice to the One to whom it belongs: the all-seeing God of the universe, and the Lover of your Soul.
5. Spend a moment praying that this truth might penetrate your heart and transform the way you view God, yourself and other people.
Tuesday | Who’s at Fault?
In Genesis 45:5–13, Joseph says 3 different times that God sent him to Egypt, making it the overall emphasis in his response to his brothers. On the surface, this seems fairly simple, but when you think about the evils committed against Joseph in getting him to Egypt, it shows a deep trust in God’s sovereignty.
1. How hard is it for you to consider the sovereignty of God in the midst of life’s suffering?
2. Think about some area in which you have recently been wronged. How difficult is it for you to say (whether you see the ‘good outcome’ or not), “God planned this for good”?
If we’re honest, we probably don’t react in the same way that Joseph did. Our reaction is usually akin to something like this: “you sold me into slavery, but God picked up the pieces and did the best he could do with what was left after you messed everything up.” Our response begs the question, ‘Who is responsible for the circumstances of my life?’ If we are not careful, we will take credit for the good things in our lives and then blame others for the bad. But a trust in the sovereignty of God cuts through this ruse.
3. Do you find yourself blaming other people, groups, companies, governments, etc. for hard circumstances in your life?
4. Read Romans 8:28. What might it look like for you to begin to see the circumstances of your life as regulated by a Good and
Sovereign God who is about more than making a comfortable life for you on earth…he is about preparing you for heaven?
You see, faith in God’s sovereignty frees me to forgive and release my enemy because my enemy isn’t capable of ‘messing up my life.’ Job 42:2 says, “I know that you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
5. Spend a moment now praying that God would flip your perspective and see his sovereignty over the whole of your life.
6. Read Jeremiah 29:11. Now, ask him to give you faith that all his plans for you are for your eternal good and his glory, no matter the earthly cost.
Wednesday | Reconciliation
Genesis 45:14–15 puts the amazing reconciliation of God on display through Joseph’s initiation towards his brothers. Up to this point in the conversation, Joseph’s brothers have been totally dismayed and speechless in his presence out of fear and shame. But what Joseph does in verses 14–15 removes their fear and shame and allows them to talk with him again.
1. Who initiates reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers? Why do you think this is important?
2. Have you ever had this happen to you in a relationship where you were forgiven and reconciled by someone you had sinned against? What did they do that took away your fear and shame?
One thing that is intriguing about this scene is that Joseph hugs and weeps with Benjamin first, who was not there to sell Joseph into slavery and committed no sin against him. Then, Joseph moves on to his brothers and does the same to them. Why is this important? It is because the weeping and the hugs were not about forgiving his brothers. Forgiveness had already happened back in verse 4–5. That was finished. The hugs and weeping were about moving on and restoring relationship. These were not tears of sin but tears of reconciliation.
3. Spend a moment seeing this story as a picture of how God is the one who initiated towards you to not only forgive you, but to completely restore relationship with you.
4. What moments of reconciliation are needed in your life right now? What might it look like for you to initiate these because God initiated reconciliation towards you?
5. Read Romans 5:8–11. “While we were enemies, we were reconciled.” Let the Father’s love for you and his pursuit of relationship with you while you were still his enemy fill your heart with gratitude. And pray that it will overflow in love, forgiveness, and reconciliation with others.
Thursday | Where do you go?
In Genesis 45:16–20, Pharaoh hears about Joseph’s family and responds with lavish generosity towards them without even consulting Joseph. The inference here is that clearly Joseph had not told Pharaoh about what his brothers had done to him. We see something similar in Genesis 45:1 as Joseph dismisses everyone else when he reveals himself to his brothers. This response is so different from how most of us tend to respond when we have been wronged. We find any justification we can to rehearse the sin with everyone EXCEPT for the person who wronged us.
1. The question for us in this is who do you go to when you’ve been sinned against? Do you go to the person who sinned against you or do you run to share the offense with others?
2. There are times when it is good to get counsel and prayer from others in helping us deal with hurts, so that we can be strengthened for the task of forgiving and to being reconciled. Do you find this to be your motivation in sharing hurts with others or does it come more from a place of gossip?
Read Matthew 18:15. When we’ve been hurt, we often feel that it is the responsibility of the offender to come to us and apologize. While that is good and necessary, Jesus also commands the person who was offended to go and be reconciled with the offender. This is mind-blowing until we see what this is exactly what God did with us. He came and initiated towards us, forgave us, and reconciled us to himself.
3. Are there people who have wronged you that you are waiting for them to come and apologize to you so that you can forgive them? Write them down.
4. If today your actions were informed by God’s love for you, what would be your next steps in those relationships?
5. Pray now and ask God to fill you with his grace that you will overflow in forgiveness and reconciliation!
Friday | Now for the Mission
In Genesis 45:24, Joseph says something very interesting to his brothers. After he forgave them, was reconciled to them, and poured out the riches of Egypt lavishly on them, he tells them simply to not fight on the journey home. There is an expectation on those who have been loved, forgiven and reconciled to love, forgive and reconcile others. It would be ridiculous for his brothers to start fighting amongst themselves after the amazing forgiveness they had all just experienced together. Wouldn’t it?
1. It’s easy to say for them, but is the fact that you’ve been loved and forgiven by God actively changing the way you relate to those around you?
2. Do you react differently to conflict than the culture around you does?
Read 2 Corinthians 5:18–20. The first part of this “ministry of reconciliation” we’ve been given as Christians is to let the love of Jesus act on our hearts so that we bring reconciliation to our relationships. The second part is that we actively share the message of God’s reconciling love with others.
3. Would you describe yourself as having a ministry of reconciliation? Why or why not?
4. How might viewing yourself as an “ambassador of Christ” change the way you view your life and your mission?
5. Spend a moment praying and asking God to give you a greater sense of the love of God for you and that that love would transform your relationships and your mission.