Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Joseph…thank you!!!! Thank you for showing me how to navigate the drama of my own daily grind, in such a way that God is the hero and I simply get to make his grace shine through. As I navigate my way through the drama of these few chapters, I am grateful for your example of strategy and leadership and wisdom and humility.
As I read Genesis chapter 43-45… From the moment Joseph sees his brothers now before him, he takes them on the wildest emotional ride of their life, but they have any idea what is going on. There are so many moments in this chapter that I could write about: so much drama, emotion, tension, distress, angst and confusion..at least for Jospeh’s brothers and his father.
For example, the moment when Joseph sets eyes on his brothers when they bow before him but instead all he sees are sheaves of wheat and stars….the very ones who bowed before him back when he was just a dreamer, long before he was living the dream.
When he sees them and recognises them…was it just the dreams….or did he remember the last time he saw these same ten men? The time they plotted his death?
As I lean into this story, and the unfolding detail of desperate men seeking grain for their families, the accusations of espionage, to the desperation in their voices, as they beg their father Jacob to allow them to take Benjamin back to Egypt, to hear Jacob’s outburst: ‘EVERYTHING IS GOING AGAINST ME’ and even the desperate plea to Joseph to let Benjamin go home to thier dad (lest their father diesof a broken heart)…so much drama….yet the moment that gets me is none of these.
I do love that Joseph can understand everything the brothers are saying but uses an interpreter so they don’t realise he speaks Hebrew. He wants to spy on their hearts. But it isn’t that one….
Another point in the the story is where that Joseph weeps and not just once…a few times and especially when he embraces his under brother Benjamin. He weeps so loudly that Phaorah hears about it…but it’s not that one.
I find it strange that Jacob, his Father sends the best of the produce to Egypt to buy favour from this man, even through they are in a famine and Egypt and the palace has all the food they need and more….(how like us …to try and buy favour and blessing when the favour and blessing is about to poured over us anyway….but that’s not the stand out either.
Then there’s when the men are seated at a feast and being served and Benjaimin gets FIVE times as much food than his brothers..that is one image that catches my sense of humour. What were his brothers thinking as more and more food came for their brother. The number five is significant … It is the number of grace…
Another thing that grabs my attention is when Joseph seats his brothers in order of age … they were amazed but still didn’t twig?
I love that he keeps putting their money back in their bags and keeps going in circles.
I love the moment when the 22 years of life in Egypt all makes sense…and Joseph begins to explain who he is and his statement :’God meant it for good! ‘ .. God meant the pit for good?God meant slavery for good, God meant betrayal for good? his reputation slaughtered for good? false accusation for good? God meant prison for good? God meant being forgotten for good? Really? Not just good for his good but good on all levels. Yes! In this moment it all makes sense and he weeps!!! But that is not the stand out moment for me.
I love that the manager plays along and simply suggests that the money in their bag was put there by their God. Did he say it sarcastically or to stop them making a fuss. We know they got the seed for free.
I love all that, but it is one small thing that stands out in amongst the many things in this chapter of Joseph’s crazy God protected life: this one thing that speaks to me more that his rise to leadership, the story of his dreams or many other amazing trait about his character and his person.
It is the moment just before he tells his brothers who he is. It is when he tells everyone (except his brothers) to get out. That is my favourite part of this crazy roller coaster ride he has taken them on. He is about to tell his brothers he is the brother they sold out but first…he sends THEM out. It is a profound picture of his humility and his ability to forgive.
This moment is confronting to me. Surely he has the right to shame them and humiliate them before forgiving them. He chooses not to allow anyone to know what they had done to him. Before he reveals who he is, he wants to ensure that the conversation protects them. He chooses forgiveness, but more that that..he chooses to protect them from shame. He has the authority, the role, the capacity to do whatever he wants. He can send them home hungry, he can put them in prison, he can enslave some and release others. He can remain hidden as an Egyptian leader, schooled to lead nations. He chooses to reveal himself and show them the heart of God.
He had every right to tell those who worked for him and those in positions of authority what his brothers had done…but he chose to live out of grace in such a way that no one would know. He ensured no one outside of his family would know what he had been through and what those who had sinned against him had done. Keeping silent when I have the opportunity to make someone pay is defjbstel u not my priority. What an incredible gracious response to 22 years of grief or pain and heartache at the hands of cruel and visious betrayal…why ..because he could see that God meant it for good. He pushed every form of malice, slander, anger and bitterness away and instead embraced them and forgave them and showed them grace. ‘Forgive and tell all’ is not his story. In fact is here true forgiveness if slander and shame are a part of the story?
This has been such a revelation of grace to me. How often have we been at the mercy of those who choose to shame and slander us? When was the last time you listened to someone share in detail the evils someone has done to them and also convince you that they have forgiven BUT…. We are OK with the forgiveness BUT FIRST… there needs to be retribution, slander and shaming…we must make them pay, we must ensure they feel the conviction we have longed for them to feel. We must ensure that others will know what they have done and could do again. Joseph took his time to reveal himself. He tested their hearts and when he had processed it and the time was right…but he chooses to keep their dignity and protect them from shame. They did not deserve it but they received it.
Joseph…thank you…for showing me how to extend grace in FULL when that is the last thing I feel like doing. Surely, if Joseph was treated this way and could extend grace, why can’t I find it in me to do the same. There is nothing in my life that can compare to what Joseph experienced. More than anything else in his story…more than his faithfulness, his work ethic, his integrity and his servant heart, I feel like it is this moment that makes him a hero, ….not the moment he become the ruler and leader…yes he is able to save his people, yes God set him up as a leader…yes it is about fulfilled dreams snd destiny but it is his ability to process his relationship with those who had betrayed him and sent him away….that makes him my hero today. He chose not to slander but instead offers kindness, tender-hearted affection..there is no malace, no bitterness ….that to me is a revelation of grace and what true leadership and love requires of me. He challenged my ability to lead myself in a way that honours my character and desire to be like Jesus. To choose mercy over judgement…