Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Acts 7:60 And he (Stephen) kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.
Gen.50:17 … and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. (Joseph’s brothers)
The first step back into fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ is being back in fellowship with other Christians. We are commanded by the Lord to take care of our differences between each other first before we go before Him for anything. (Matt.5:23-24) Our prayer life is hindered, (Prov.28:9) our worship is hindered, (Matt.5:23) and our fellowship with the Lord is hindered. (1Jn.1:6-7)
For many, this is the hardest step taken because of the hurt they might have felt, whether intentional or not. Our human nature is one of revenge. We don’t want to forgive, but rather we want to retaliate. There are several ways that an individual does this:
- They strike outwardly. (gossip, backbiting, evil communications towards others)
- They strike inwardly. (instead of a explosion, they have a implosion; they carry a grudge, they withdraw inwardly; they harbor ill-feelings; few words are exchanged.)
- They strike out against God. (They quit church, the bible reading is dropped as well as their prayer life; what was once a way of life is now rejected and they return from whence they came. They blame God for the situation they are in; God is at fault for everything.)
However, God in His patience, tries to draw them back through several ways:
- By the situation they have put themselves in. (Lk.5:15)
- By the conviction of the Holy Spirit. (Lk.15:17)
- Through others. (2Cor.1:4)
In this lesson, we will look at the three areas of forgiveness. These three need to be confronted before we can have restitution with Jesus
Gen.50:15-21 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
1) Are you ready to forgive?
Although Joseph’s brothers did him much wrong, Joseph was ready to forgive. (Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.)
How was he able to do that after all that he went through because of them.
a) There was no malice in his heart towards them. In Col.3:8 we are to put off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. (All these take care of the first way we try to strike out with) and we are to put on kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; and we are to forbear (put up with) one another, if any man (or woman) have a quarrel against any; (that means you against them, or them against you!) and we are to do it even as Christ forgave us (we didn’t deserve forgiveness, but He made a way anyway; that being the cross at Calvary) so also do ye.(That is a command, not a suggestion)
b) Joseph forgot about it and he didn’t continue to bring it up! (And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.) It was his brethren that brought it up, not Joseph. It was never mentioned again after Joseph put them at ease about it. If you are ready to forgive, then you must be ready to bury it and never allow it to resurface again. Micah 7:19 “.. thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Jer.31:34 .. for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
The Lord is ready to forgive because He is ready to forget. The question is: ARE YOU?
2) Are you willing to forgive?
There are two kinds of forgiveness: us hurting others, and others hurting us. In these lessons, we will be looking at the latter. Although Joseph’s brothers did him much wrong, Joseph was willing to forgive them. What is needed to willingly forgive someone when you know perfectly well that it was not your fault, it’s cause you much pain, and bitterness is springing up in you.
a) You need to overlook the cause of the problem. (“God meant it unto good”) Yes, they caused Joseph grief, heartaches, and loneliness. Yes, they caused him to be accused falsely, caused him to spend time in prison, to be sold and treated like a slave. Yes, they cause him anguish to be separate from the ones he loved, his father Jacob and his brother Benjamin.(**personal note: I believe Joseph was closest to Benjamin because (a) they were brothers, not half-brothers and (b) they came from Rachel who was Jacobs first true love) But yet, when there was a famine in the land, he made sure his father and brothers were taken care of. Why? If anyone had a reason to be bitter and get revenge, it certainly was Joseph. Being the second most powerful individual in Egypt, he was in the position to do serious damage to them if he wanted to. But he didn’t. Long before king David penned these words, the Lord already showed Joseph that the LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.(Psa.145:17) He was able to overlook what they’ve done to him.
That kind of attitude can only be a result of the Holy Spirit. Eph.4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. I’m thankful that the Lord overlooks many of my faults and He tells me to do the same.(Matt.18:32-33)
b) We need to look at the cause of the problem. The reason Joseph’s brethren sold him in the first place was because of jealousy and envy. (Gen.37:4,8,11) These are the same reasons that the scribes and Pharisees delivered up Jesus to Pilate (Jn.11:47-53; Matt.27:18) But yet both these men were able to forgive. Eph.6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
When we can fully grasp this Scripture and understand what it means, we then can see the cause of the problem; know that it is the satanic empire attempting to disorganize the body of Christ through our hurt feelings and our pride (only by pride cometh contention Prov.13:10) and overlook anything and everything that will stand in the way of our spiritual growth and walk with the Lord.
3) Are you able to forgive?
Has someone done you so wrong that you are willing to give up:
a) His mercy (Matt.5:7)
b) His rewards (Lk.6:27-35)
c) His forgiveness (Mk.11-25-26)
d) His compassion on you (Matt.18:32-35)
e) His blessings (1Pet.3:9)
The time is short, the cost is heavy, and our judgment is at hand. Psa.86:5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. Would to God we as humans would have the same mind.