Do not reproach yourselves. 

There you have it:   one act of forgiveness that changed the entire course of history.   During Joseph’s rule as governor of Egypt, widespread famine threatened the entire Middle East—including his own family back in Canaan.   Joseph was wise enough to have the Egyptians store up food reserves during years of plenty so that the people would be able to weather the lean years.   But what about Jacob and his clan?   They risked starving to death.   So Jacob, unaware that Joseph was in charge, sent his sons to Egypt to beg for help.

Imagine what could have happened if Joseph had refused to give his brothers food.   He certainly had reason to hold back.   They had sold him as a slave, and he spent thirteen years in an Egyptian prison before his fortunes turned around. Joseph could have stewed over his unjust situation and spent the years contemplating his revenge.   By the time his brothers came seeking food, he was second only to Pharaoh;   he could have had them arrested on the spot.

But Joseph chose mercy instead, and the results were amazing.   Not only did he save his brothers from starving, but he also paved the way for God to bring peace and healing to a family that had been scarred by rivalry, deception, and division.

Because of Joseph’s forgiveness, Jacob and his descendants could once more become God’s chosen, special people.   It was their descendants whom God saved from slavery through awesome signs and wonders.   Kings like David and Solomon came from their line, as did prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah.   Then, centuries later, Jesus, the Messiah and Savior, was born into their family.   All because Joseph chose mercy.

If God accomplished all this through Joseph’s forgiveness, imagine what he can do when we choose to forgive.   He can heal marriages and reunite families.   He can reconcile enemies and overcome age-old patterns of sin.   He can even bring peace to neighborhoods and nations!

Let’s ask God for the grace to be merciful.   Let’s ask him to help us break the cycle of revenge.   Let’s echo Jesus’ words from the cross:   “Father, forgive them,” and watch to see how history changes (Luke 23:34).

Word Among Us