Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 31: Forgiving One Another
August 7 2003 by Kim D. Shaver , Genesis 50:15-25

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 31: Forgiving One Another | Thursday, Aug. 7, 2003

Thursday, Aug. 7, 2003

Family Bible Study lesson for Aug. 31: Forgiving One Another

By Kim D. Shaver Genesis 50:15-25

Did you know that strained relationships, holding grudges and withholding forgiveness are hazardous to your health? Those who nurse bitterness in their lives by withholding forgiveness have greater muscle tension, higher blood pressure and may live shorter lives.

As costly as bitterness is to our physical health, it is even more costly to our spiritual health. In Matthew 18, Jesus told a parable of a rich man who had forgiven his servant a massive debt. But then that same servant refused to forgive one of his peers for a much smaller debt.

The rich master was furious and "delivered (the servant) to the torturers until he should pay all that was due him." Jesus concluded, "So my heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you from his heart does not forgive his brother" (Matthew 18:34-35).

God severely judges the sin of unforgiveness. Why? For God to forgive you and me, Jesus had to die. If God went to such sacrificial measures to forgive us when we were "yet His enemies," how can we even consider not forgiving the far smaller debts of others against us?

God views right relationships with others as essential to a right relationship with Him. He expects the giving and accepting of forgiveness to be part of our lifestyle so that we can live in the love and unity that brings glory and pleasure to Him. In our passage today, Joseph is a model for the right way to forgive. And his brothers provide a model for how to honestly admit guilt and humbly seek forgiveness.

Seek Forgiveness

(Genesis 50:15-18)

After the death of their father Jacob, Joseph's brothers wondered if Joseph would now take vengeance upon them for the cruel way they had treated him years before. First, they sent word to Joseph by messenger, including a statement from their father Jacob before his death pleading on their behalf, "I ask you to forgive your brothers."

When Joseph received their message, he wept. I wonder if Jesus weeps when a sinner humbly comes to him in sincere repentance? After sending the letter, the brothers personally went to Joseph, throwing themselves at his feet in humility, saying, "We are your slaves." They didn't try to make excuses and freely admitted their guilt, providing a good model of how we should seek forgiveness from God and others.

Experience Reassurance

(Genesis 50:19-21)

Joseph assured his brothers of his forgiveness and told them not to be afraid. "Am I in the place of God?" he said. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." And then Joseph assured them he would take care of them and he "spoke kindly to them."

Joseph had an abiding trust in the overruling providence of God to work for good even through the evil deeds of others. It is that kind of faith that enables us to release grudges as we keep our eyes on God. Joseph's forgiveness, in many ways, was like God's forgiveness of us. God not only forgives us, but He cares for us as His children. And when we come to Him as repentant sinners, He never chastises us, but accepts us with open arms and deals "kindly with us."

Enjoy Unity

(Genesis 50:22-25)

The giving and receiving of forgiveness paved the way for years of living together as a family in peace, unity and prosperity.

Because of forgiveness, the story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendents ended in hope. There was hope of the eventual exodus from Egypt that was promised to Abraham long before Joseph was even born. There was the hope that one day God would bless the world with the Messiah through the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

No matter what happened to Joseph throughout his life, he trusted in God. Just as he lived, he died trusting that God would lead his children's children into the promised land and carry his bones there for burial.

This abiding faith anchored Joseph's legacy: a legacy of godly wisdom, redemption, forgiveness and the restored unity of Israel's family.

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8/7/2003 12:00:00 AM by Kim D. Shaver , Genesis 50:15-25 | with 0 comments
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