“And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.
4 So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry. 10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11 There I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come, so that you and your household, and all that you have, do not come to poverty.’ 12 And now your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. 13 You must tell my father of all my honor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.” 14 Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.” – GENESIS 45:3-15
If you have ever grown up with a brother or a sister, I think you can relate to how hard that can be at times. I grew up with a twin brother – an identical twin brother. It was great with so many blessings, but at times it was difficult. What made it difficult was how people always compared us. Statements like “who is the fastest?” “Who is the smartest?” or “which one of you is the most popular?”
These comparisons made us very competitive, so much so it seemed like we competed in everything. This led to some nasty fights! There were days I was very mad at my brother and did not want anything to do with him. Our competitive streak lasted until we were in college on the same track team (hard to believe, but we were recruited by the same college and the same track team). This led me to a decision to study in Wales so I could experience life on my own for a time period. I love my brother. We had some strong fights but we always forgave each other and nothing serious ever happened, thank God.
As we learn in this week’s passage, we can’t say the same thing for Joseph. His brothers were very competitive and jealous of Joseph. So much so they thought of killing him. Ultimately, they sold him into slavery. I am sure they thought this would be the end of Joseph and thus no more competition or jealousy.
But God had a different plan. Joseph grew in every way and became a key leader in Egypt. There was a great famine and Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy some grain and found themselves bowed before Joseph. Joseph recognized his brothers and when he told them he recognized them and that he was their lost brother Joseph, they were afraid that he would have revenge.
But Joseph did not seek revenge, even after all the pain and suffering he went through at the hands of his brothers. He showed them grace and love. He wept out loud being able to be with his brothers again. He knew that God had meant good with this strange plan. Finally, he restored his brothers to their original position in the family. Listen to what Joseph says:
I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Joseph is such a great model for all of us. We may get mad at our family or friends. We may get upset with many people in our lives. But Joseph shows us how to lead with love and grace, knowing that God is always in control.
Jesus gave everything for us even when we did not deserve it. Even when we were a slave to sin, He still showered us with His love and grace and showed us His plan to restore us. May we be generous with grace so that we may restore relationships with those who have hurt us, and they may feel loved again.
As you reflect on this scripture and consider these thoughts this week, respond to the following:
1. Consider your current relationships. Where are the places you are withholding grace and love right now? Where are you struggling with jealousy or competitive thoughts?
2. God pours out His love and grace on us, without condition – He desires a right relationship with us. Where do you need to pour out love and grace – who do you need to show grace so that your relationship can be restored?
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