Last week my two young grandsons went to stay with their aunty for a few days up north. She’d put some money away for them to buy themselves a toy each. They both wanted nerf guns (they shoot out foam disks).
“You’ve already got nerf guns haven’t you?” asked aunty. “Yes we have, but our mum said we could do with another one each.” Aunty was a bit puzzled, but the boys persuaded her that they really needed two, so the nerf guns were duly bought and well played with. Of course when they went home with them, mum had said nothing of the sort! She wasn’t too pleased that they now had two each to annoy the whole household with, but it was far too late to take them back. Kids!
Then I read the story in Genesis 50:15-21. We can all spin a story to suit our needs!Joseph’s brothers were terrified now their father was dead, that he would want to punish them for selling him into slavery all those years before. Now maybe Jacob had foreseen the problems that could arise after his death, but if so, why hadn’t he spoken to Joseph himself about it? It must have been quite evident to Joseph, that in telling him about ‘their father’s instructions’ to forgive them, they were feeling very vulnerable, and fearfully pleading for mercy. They even claimed to be his ‘slaves’.
Joseph couldn’t have said more to demonstrate his forgiveness. He showed them how God had taken this bad thing, and turned it into something good; he spoke kindly to them, and promised to provide and care for them. What more could he have done to reassure them!
Yet strangely enough, slaves they became. Not right away. Not during the lifetime of Joseph, but eventually it came to pass, and that story continues into the next book of Exodus. And I just wonder if that sense of wrongdoing and inferiority that pervaded those brothers of Joseph took root, and continued down the generations. Perhaps they became slaves partly because they felt like they ought to be slaves. Maybe their sin all those years before was still affecting and enslaving them. It wasn’t Joseph’s fault; he fully and freely forgave; but maybe they never forgave themselves.
None of us is perfect – we have all done wrong. We have all needed forgiveness, and if we have asked him, God has forgiven us. But we need to be sure we forgive ourselves too, and move into the freedom and full-measure life that God intends for us to enjoy. Never let the past dictate your future.