Can you picture Joseph’s brothers coming home from the funeral for their father?
I bet that was an interesting conversation:
“Now that dad is gone, Little Joe is sure to pay us back for all the grief we gave him.”
“Yeah. But he said he had forgiven us.”
“Hmph. Right. That was when Dad was still around. Now he can do whatever he wants.”
“Maybe the whole 'selling him into slavery' thing was a bad idea.”
But instead of giving his brothers what they deserved, Joseph reminded them that what they intended for evil, God used for good. Had his brothers not sold him to Egyptian slave traders, the entire family might have died in the famine.
So it’s all good that they beat him, threw him in a well, and then sold him and told their father he was dead?
Of course not!
One of the greatest demonstrations of God’s sovereignty is His ability to allow us to operate with freedom, yet to work through even our worst choices to accomplish His purposes. If we could thwart the plans of God with our sinful choices, we would essentially be more powerful than God — and we know that isn’t the case.
Joseph not only forgave his brothers, but committed to care for them and for their families. Forgiveness doesn’t require us to put ourselves in jeopardy, but it does require us to show abundant grace and kindness even as we maintain healthy boundaries.