Learning Forgiveness (Genesis 45:1-15)
We’re in a message series called “Keep Your Dream Alive.” God wants you to have His dream for your life. He wants you to have hope for a great future, both in this life and the life to come. Yet, there are many things that will try to squelch or kill your dream. Many people give up on God’s dream for their lives and live with little to look forward to. Others become angry and bitter at people or even God Himself, when things don’t seem to work out for their dream. Anger and bitterness come from unforgiveness, which will kill God’s dream for your life. Each one of us will need to learn forgiveness in order to keep our dreams alive.
Today, my message is entitled “Learning Forgiveness.” When do we need to learn forgiveness? We need to learn to forgive when someone hurts us or seems to do damage to the dream for the future that we have for our lives. When a person doesn’t forgive, then anger and bitterness creep into and begin to destroy our lives.
Hebrews 12:14-15 (NIV) Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
We see in this verse that God requires us to make every effort to live in peace with others. But sometimes, even when we do our best to live in peace, others may hurt us or do damage to our dreams. At those times, we must draw on God’s grace as we learn to forgive. If we don’t forgive, then a bitter root will grow up in our lives and cause trouble for us and others. Unforgiveness is not an option for the believer. Jesus said in …
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV) For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
God’s forgiveness of your sins is dependent on you forgiving others. So we need to learn to forgive those who have hurt us and sinned against us. Forgiveness does not mean that the other person did no wrong. Forgiveness means that you are not going to pay back evil for evil, but return good for evil.
In our series, Keep Your Dream Alive, we are looking at the life of Joseph. Let’s briefly summarize Joseph’s story, which you can read about in Genesis 37-50. As a teen, God gave Joseph a dream of becoming a great leader, even leading his parents and older brothers. His brothers hated Joseph and plotted to kill him, but finally decided to sell him as a slave. Joseph ended up as a slave in Egypt. Yet Joseph never gave up on his dreams from God. Through God’s miraculous intervention, Joseph went from slave to second in command of all of Egypt.
Our story today begins 22 years after Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. A severe famine is afflicting the entire world and Joseph’s brothers journey from Israel to Egypt in search of food. How will Joseph react to seeing his brothers? Will he be able to forgive or will he harbor bitterness? If Joseph forgives, how does he think about what has happened? What can we learn about forgiveness from Joseph’s story?