Intro: In order for you to forgive someone, do they first need to apologize to you? It is a common but misguided thought that holding onto anger and resentment is acceptable until someone takes responsibility for the mistreatment. Forgiveness is a command; it is one of the hardest decisions to make and one of the most challenging actions to extend to others who have hurt or harmed us.
To forgive is to let go of resentment and anger. In fact, as we forgive others we emulate Christ who forgave all of our sin. Offering genuine forgiveness cannot be done in our human strength; rather, it is based on our decision to trust God to make things right in his time. We can then receive God’s power to live in his shalom or peace. To let go of a spirit of resentment and embrace forgiveness is liberating for the soul.
Leading up to our passage for today, Joseph has experienced tremendous abuse by loved ones. Even the prophetic gifts God gave Joseph are not appreciated by his family. At the age of seventeen, Joseph is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and alienated from everyone familiar. He is transported to Egypt and purchased by Potiphar who is working with the king of Egypt. Our passage, today, picks up at this point.
Is Joseph resentful or sitting in a pool of self-pity? No, in fact, he is working with utmost integrity to serve his new master, Potiphar. Therefore, God blesses Joseph with favor which makes him successful in everything. But, the blessing does not stop there. Not only is Joseph blessed by God, Potiphar’s household is blessed by God through Joseph…and, the blessing continues until Egypt is blessed by God through Joseph. Forgiveness sets Joseph free to receive the blessing of God and multiplication of the blessing continues from that one righteous act. When we forgive others based on God’s command, we position ourselves for blessing, as well.
Genesis 39:1-6 NLT Joseph in Potiphar’s House
1 When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.
2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. 4 This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. 5 From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished. 6 So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing—except what kind of food to eat!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for teaching us the value of letting go of resentment and anger; to forgive others as we have been forgiven by you. Joseph made a decision to forgive long before his brothers asked for it. In the meantime, you blessed Joseph and caused him to walk in your ways and blessings. Injustice is a part of this fallen world and we know we will all need to forgive others at different times in our lives. Help us, Lord, to forgive and live free in your blessing. What the enemy meant for harm in Joseph’s life, you redeemed and made it work for his good. In Jesus’ name. Amen.