Forgiving others obviously can be very challenging. This is exactly what Joseph encounters in the book of Genesis when he is faced with the issue of whether he will forgive his brothers or not. If you read Genesis 42-45, then you will see that Joseph put his brothers through a series of tests. I do not think that his forgiveness of them was based upon how they handled those tests. I think he was trying to see if he could trust them or not. Forgiving someone is letting them off the hook and blessing them, but it does not necessarily mean you trust that person again. The fact that Joseph did not brutally punish his brothers but instead blessed them shows me that he forgave them.
The question we must answer is this: How do we forgive?
I believe a person must understand the forgiveness they have in Christ before they are ever able to truly forgive others. God is holy and glorious and Romans 3 tells us we fall short of His glory. We are all sinners. I think we forget at times that David committed murder and adultery, and he was a man after God’s own heart, and I think we also forget that Paul persecuted Christians before coming to Christ. He wrote half the New Testament.
Psalms 51 tells us we are all sinful the moment we are conceived. Luke 7 shows us a woman who is probably a prostitute who in her brokenness places her faith in Christ. What is my point? We are all in desperate need of Jesus. We are all the prostitute. We all fall short of God.
But what does God do? He sent Christ to bear our sin and drink in God’s wrath. Because of that act, when one surrenders their life to Christ, they are completely forgiven. They are declared new! God reconciles us to Himself through Christ. Are you ready for the coolest part? As Christ died and rose again, He glorified Himself. So get this: It brings glory to God to make sinful people right with Him. Wow! This is what Christ has done for me! He must really love us!
So what is my point? My point is this: If Christ bore my sin, drank in God’s wrath and forgave me, then I need to let Him empower me to forgive those who have wronged me. Forgiveness is not necessarily choosing to trust the person who hurt you again. Although that trust my come over time. Forgiveness is letting them off the hook. It is saying I no longer hold that sin against them.
This is what Joseph did in Genesis. He did not hold the sin of the brothers against them any longer. What an incredible story of forgiveness!
If you want to listen to my thoughts on the cross, our forgiveness and choosing to give it away to others, then click on the link below. It is a podcast of me preaching at a church in Louisiana on 2 Corinthians 5.
May we know Christ’s forgiveness! May we give it away! May we tell others about the good news of Jesus!