“Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.”
Joseph’s brothers got very nervous when their father died because they were afraid that he would turn on them and do to them what they did to him. The mistake that Joseph’s brothers made was that they thought that Joseph lacked the character like them to treat people decently and to forgive those who wronged him.
However, Joseph’s brothers were wrong again about Joseph’s character. They were wrong when they misjudged him about the dreams he told them about, and they were wrong when they thought he would try to hurt them like they hurt him. Joseph was such a man of character that he was able to forgive those who deeply hurt him.
In verses 19-21, you find the evidence of true forgiveness. Everyone will be hurt by people in their lifetime, but the ability to forgive is a must if you want God to use you to help people. You cannot help people without people hurting you, but you also can’t help people if you don’t forgive them when they hurt you. Let me share with you the evidence of forgiveness that is found in Joseph’s life.
First, forgiveness acknowledges the providence of God. Joseph rhetorically asked and answered in verses 19-20, “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.” True forgiveness will always understand that God had a purpose for the hurt that He allowed you to go through. You will never come to the point where you can forgive those who have hurt you until you realize that God purposed the hurt in your life so that you could be a greater help to many people. You are causing many people to go without help as long as you refuse to allow forgiveness in your life. God wants to use your hurts to help others through theirs, but you will never be able to help others until you forgive the one who has hurt you.
Second, true forgiveness is willing to help the one who hurt you. Notice what Joseph said in the verse above, “I will nourish you, and your little ones.” Are you willing to help those who have hurt you? The greatest test of a forgiving heart is whether you will help those who have hurt you. This may seem impossible to do, but it is not impossible if you allow God’s forgiveness to reign in your heart. When God’s forgiveness reigns in your heart, you will find it easy to do good to those who have hurt you, not because of your forgiveness, but because of God’s forgiveness that you allow to control your heart.
Third, true forgiveness speaks kindly to those who have hurt you. It is easy to say you have forgiven someone, but what you say about that person to your closest confidants reveals what you truly think about the person. Forgiveness is not what you tell people what you have done, but it is what you think and say in private about the one who has hurt you.
Let me ask you, have you truly forgiven the person or people who have hurt you? You will never be able to help many people until you learn to forgive those who have deeply hurt you. You will never be able to forgive people by your own power, but it will only be done when you let God’s forgiveness control your heart.