After burying Jacob, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to his father’s burial. But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said. So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said. But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. —Genesis 50:14-21
It is one thing to be guilty of something and to carry it around for 22 years like Joseph’s brothers did, but it is quite another thing to still be carrying that guilt and fearing judgment for it for 17 years after you have been forgiven. How about you? Are you carrying guilt around and fearing judgment even though you have been forgiven? If you are then that is a false guilt and you need to accept the forgiveness that has already been given you. Once we are forgiven for an offense we do not need to feel guilty about it again. No, forgiveness frees us and we should not be feeling bound by something when we have been forgiven. This is a destructive tool of Satan to discourage us.
In the verses above we see that Joseph’s brothers sent him a message after Jacob died. They still feared that Joseph would get even with them. The message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” They had been in Egypt now for 17 years. 17 years Joseph had them provided for and they still doubted that he had sincerely forgiven them. These brothers were hounded by their guilt for 22 years and now they had been carrying false guilt around for another 17 years without having to! 39 years of feeling guilty for having sold Joseph into slavery. How sad is that!
How did Joseph respond when he got the message? He broke down and wept. Why did he weep? It was because his brothers still feared him. They still believed he would get even with them for what they had done. They did not believe that Joseph had forgiven them. This is why Joseph wept…
I wonder how God responds when He forgives us and we do not believe Him and are fearful that He will judge us. How it must grieve Him to see those He has forgiven to be held back, bound and hindered from truly doing His will by false guilt. Instead of being loaded down with false guilt “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3). When He forgives you are forgiven! Now live free and run the race He has for you!
Dear Father, thank You for Your forgiveness through the righteousness of Jesus my Lord. May I accept His forgiveness and run the race You have for me. May I do so in the authority of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit.