How Do You Speak About Those Who Offend You?

Not too long ago I was blown away by a verse I’ve read or heard dozens of times.  I love how God’s Word can speak something brand new into your heart.  His Word never get’s old or dry, it is always alive and active!

I was reading through Genesis and came to the story of Joseph.  First of all, there are so many lessons in his life.  Lessons on vision, leadership, stewardship, purity, the sovereignty of God and more.  One of the lessons I seem to hear least about, is the forgiveness that Joseph shows.

While a young man, Joseph’s brothers throw him in a pit to die, end up selling him into slavery, where Joseph lives all of his young adult life either as a slave in Potiphar’s house, or in the prison of Pharaoh. He eventually finds himself climbing the ladder in the house of Pharaoh, becoming second in command of the Kingdom.  He was a man of prominence, power and prestige, a true sign of God working in his life and on his behalf.

A famine then consumes Egypt and the surrounding countries, causing Joseph’s brothers to come to Egypt looking for food.  Most of us know the story of how Joseph initially didn’t reveal who he was, and only after a series of trials and tests did he reveal his true identity, reunite with his family and spare the line of Christ from extinction.  But there is one verse in this whole thing that might speak more to the character of Joseph than any other.

Genesis 45:16 The news soon reached Pharaoh’s palace: “Joseph’s brothers have arrived!” Pharaoh and his officials were all delighted to hear this.

Think about it.  Joseph’s brothers had attempted to murder him, sold him into slavery and abandoned him in his greatest time of need, yet Pharaoh was delighted to hear about their arrival?  Did Joseph not say anything about what happened?  Had he not complained, criticized or cut down his brothers to Pharaoh?

Joseph was second in command to Pharaoh himself.  They would have spent time together, officially, in the kingdom, but unofficially as friends as well.  Pharaoh had the power to arrest or kill someone with the word of his mouth.  We see this earlier in the story of Joseph.  If Joseph had been critical or condemning of his brothers, when they showed up Pharaoh would not have been delighted, he would have been disgusted.  If he would have known how horrible they had treated his second in command, I’m quite certain they would not have made it out of the country alive.

I believe this speaks volumes about Joseph’s character.  If Pharaoh was delighted they were there, then Joseph must of spoken highly of them.  Wait, what?  It’s the only logical explanation.

Perhaps, while Joseph was praying to “his” God, Pharaoh overheard prays for his family to be blessed.  Maybe Joseph talked about the “good times” and not the “bad.”  I believe this shows how Joseph had forgiven his brothers long before they ever begged him for it in the end.

I think Joseph understood and lived out the command of Jesus long before it was ever spoken by Him or written in Scripture:  “Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”  I don’t know for sure, but I think Joseph spoke words of life about his brothers.  It’s the only explanation for the response of Pharaoh.

Based on how you talk about those who have offended you, how would Pharaoh respond to their arrival?  Would he be delighted?  This is such a challenging thought.  I pray that the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart would not only be pleasing to God (Psalm 19:14), but I pray they would also be positive about those who have hurt me.

 

 

Jeff Maness

I am a follower of Jesus first, husband to a beautiful wife, father to four amazing children, lead pastor of Element Church in Cheyenne, WY, and blogger of all things life.

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