*Inscription: Writing God’s Words on Our Hearts & Minds*
*/Part 10: Joseph Forgives /*
*/February 14, 2010/*
*Objectives of sermon:*
· Teach us to forgive like Joseph because we have been forgiven like the brothers.
· Skim passages
· 063, Divining Recon., Leftovers
*Scripture reading: *Genesis 37:18-28* *(Ahzryia)
Happy *Valentine’s* Day!
If you haven’t made your *reservations*, you may want to slip out quietly now (I won’t tell).
You know the wounds we carry, the wrong done to us as well as the wrongs we have done.
Forgiveness is both one of the hardest and best parts of our faith.
I said last week that the more I studied Jacob, the less I liked him.
With *Joseph*, it is the *opposite*.
Joseph is (I think) the OT’s most *honorable* *person*.
· Unlike *Jacob*, he *entrusted* himself to God yet was *active* when he was supposed to be.
· Unlike *Rueben* and *Judah*, he was *sexually* pure, even when he had everything to gain.
Riches to rags, A hallmark story
I said that Jacob’s story that was like a *soap* *opera*, but this is like a *Hallmark* *riches*-to-*rags*-to-*riches* story.
Joseph was Jacob’s *favorite* *son*, born of his favorite wife.
Even at the age of 17, he proved as an able *manager* and was honored with a “*multicolored* *coat*,” marking him above his brothers.
*God* also *promised* him, through *dreams*, that his brothers would bow down to him.
Perhaps he got a *big* *head* over this, but it certainly didn’t improve his *brothers’* *attitude* towards him.
One day Jacob sent him to *check* *up* on his brother (not too bright) and they decide to *kill* him.
Fortunately Rueben persuaded them to throw him in a *pit* instead.
The end up selling him as a *slave* and he is taken to *Egypt*.
In Egypt he is bought by *Potipher*, and quickly *rises* to the top because God bless him in whatever he does.
He is doing great until the *misses* decides he’s hot, in what is the first recorded example of *sexual* *harassment*.
When he *refuses* her, she accuses him of *rape* (“Hell hath no fury...”).
Potipher throws him in *prison* (but I think he didn’t believe his wife, since Joseph was not executed).
In prison, God is still *with* *Jacob*, where he again rises to the top and basically runs the prison.
There he correctly *interprets* the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s officials.
The one who is restored returns to favor, *two* *years* later, by telling Pharaoh that Joseph interprets dreams.
Joseph interprets *Pharaoh’s* *dream* which warns of seven years of plenty then seven of famine.
Joseph is made #2 in the nation in order to *organize* the *storage* of food.
Things go great for Joseph but the plot *thickens* – the *brothers* show up to buy food.
How does he *respond* to the brothers who enslaved him?
Long story, very short, he *forgives* and is reunited with father and they all live *happily* *ever* *after*.
Joseph, forgiveness expert
There are *so* *many* *lessons* that we could take from Joseph’s life, such as how to deal with *trials*, *trusting* God, sexual *purity*, but the one I want to focus on is *forgiveness*.
· With the *exception* of *God*, no one in the Bible is a *better* example of forgiveness than Joseph.
Forgiveness is a *fundamental* challenge.
*All* of us have been *wronged* in some way and all of us have *struggled* to forgive.
I take that back, some *aren’t* *struggling* with unforgiveness –they have no desire to forgive.
A whole sermon could be given on *why* we must *forgive*, but I will boil it down to two things:
As Christians, *God* has *forgiven* us so much it is the damnable insult (I use that term intentionally) to not forgive others (“Forgive us our debts...”)
Forgiveness is also for *our* own *good*, as we will see.
Sorry to bring it up...
I am going to *ask* *a lot* of you this morning: I want you to *bring* *to* *mind* the people and situations you are struggling to forgive.
· I’m not *sadistic*, nor is this “*Oprah*.”
But I strongly believe that this is really, *really* *important*, and I don’t want this to be some *theoretical* *sermon* on how Joseph was nice and forgave his brothers.
*Examine* yourself: Is there *unforgiveness* lurking in your heart?
Q How do you *know* if you’re unforgiving?
It’s one thing to say “I forgive you,” it is another to *fully* *forgive*.
· Here’s the *test*: Do you feel a *twinge* of *anger* and *bitterness* when you think of them?
I know that many of us are held *captive* to bitterness, and I want us to find *freedom* by walking through the *process* of forgiveness by looking at *Joseph*.
· Make no mistake, it is a *process*.
Healing doesn’t happen just because we want to.
Deep hurts take time to release.
Just as you rehearse a grudge over and over, you have to release it over and over as well.
/**/Forgiveness is relinquishing your right for revenge/*
Forgiveness is surrendering the right to get even or the desire to see them suffer.
It is no longer nursing a grudge.
It is literally canceling the debt that they owe us.
· It’s like a *bank* forgiving a *mortgage*.
When the *brothers* came to Egypt, they were completely in his mercy.
*Action* *flicks* frequently revolve around the hero go through many *trials* to get revenge, “Hello.
My name is *Inigo* *Montoya*.
You killed my father.
Prepare to die.”
· This is *boring*, they walk into his ‘hood, defenseless.
*Nothing* was *stopping* Joseph from acting out the *fantasy* of revenge that must have *played* in his head (*we’ve* *all* done that – wishing we could say just the right thing, etc).
· The only thing that held him back is that he did not *want* *to*, he had *forgiven* them and they did not *owe* him any *suffering*.
*When* did he forgive them?
Years *beforehand* – notice this:
*Genesis 45:16 * When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased.
Perhaps I am reading *between* the *lines*, but this tells me that he had already been *speaking* *well* of them, out of a heart of forgiveness.
It is consistent with his character.
Why is this *important*?
It tells me that forgiveness is not based on whether or not the other person deserves it; it doesn’t even require that they *ask* for forgiveness.
· Forgiveness is between *you* and *God*, not you and the offender.
Choose to forgive
Notice that this is not a feeling, it is a choice.
If we wait until we feel like forgiving, it may never happen.
But if we choose to forgive, our heart will follow (eventually).
· This in act of the will, but is requires the help of the Holy Spirit to do – seek God’s help through prayer.
Sometimes you’ll have to start by *praying* to *want* to forgive.
*Forgiveness frees us*
As I said earlier, forgiveness isn’t just for *their* *sake*:
If Joseph spent all his time in *jail* *nursing* his *grudge* against his brothers, Potipher, and his wife, do you think he would have been *blessed* by God and able to *accomplish* all he did?
Forgiveness is the process of letting go, it’s freeing ourselves from bitterness.
Q When you rehearse an offence, does it leave you feeling happy and free or hollow and empty?
“Being bitter is like taking poison and waiting for your enemy to die.”
Bitterness and unforgiveness is very damaging forces to our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.