The need for forgiveness arises because someone had done something wrong against us. On our part, we then make a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of whatever resentment that we had against the person. Be it in school or at the workplace, I believe we probably have encountered people who may have done something inappropriate against us, such as talking behind our backs, or claiming undue credit. Of course, it is rather painful when these hurtful things happen, especially when it comes from someone we trust. What should we do as a Christian? Let us learn from Joseph, who was a great example of someone who forgave.
Account of Joseph
For many years, Joseph was separated from his family after he was sold to the Midianites (Genesis 37:27). Later in Egypt, he also encountered the temptation by Potiphar’s wife, and was sent to jail, before becoming the second in command in Egypt. Joseph had some rather tough years growing up as a young adult, but he still managed to overcome those challenging times. One may think that if his brothers did not sell him to the Midianites, he would be having a much more comfortable life living in Canaan. However, God had His reasons for sending Joseph to Egypt; after all, God knows what is best for us (Isaiah 55:8-9).
It is very natural for anyone in Joseph’s shoes to be resentful of his own brothers for selling him to slavery, resulting in him having such a hard time in Egypt. However, we see how Joseph managed to forgive and reconcile with his brothers. We also see how his brothers' characters had ultimately changed for the better, when they tried to protect Benjamin, their youngest brother. In the end, we can see that despite Joseph’s brothers putting him through an arduous journey in Egypt, he chose to forgive them ultimately.
How does this account in Genesis, which happened more than 3000 years ago, apply to us today? In our daily lives, we will also certainly face instances when we encounter people who offend us. As mentioned earlier, they could be talking behind our backs, or claiming undue credit. What should our response be to such situations? From the account of Joseph, we can see that he was able to forgive his brothers despite the great evil they had done against him. In Matthew 18:21-22, Jesus taught us to forgive others up to seventy times seven times. This is not an actual figure to take note of, but Jesus is teaching us that there is no limit to the number of times that we should forgive those who have done wrong against us. Jesus also taught us in Matthew 6:12 that we ought to “forgive our debtors.” Essentially, just as how God is faithful to forgive each and every one of our sins, we ought to do it to others too.
Brethren, have we held any grudge against anyone, be it in the church or perhaps our co-workers in the workplace? Regardless, when the wrong is being done against us, we need to always be calm and think of an ideal way to resolve the situation. As Christians, we have learnt that we need to be forgiving in nature, because we ought to be Christ-like in our behavior. Jesus and Joseph have both taught us the importance of forgiveness. I believe that if we are willing to open our hearts and make peace with one another, we are able to forgive whatever wrong others may have done against us.