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Lesson Eighteen: Joseph Forgives Brothers
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

In an article written by the Mayo Clinic staff, they wrote a prescription that brought these benefits:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress, and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self-esteem

The key to this life was letting go of grudges and bitterness. Forgiveness can lead to improved health and peace of mind.

How have you seen the lack of forgiveness consume someone?

The Book of Genesis began with God creating everything, and it was good. However, it did not stay that way. Sin entered the world and affected everyone. As the book ends, we are reminded of sin, but instead of retaliation, we read that Joseph forgave his brothers.

Genesis 50:15-21 says, “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.’ So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, ‘Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.’’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.’ Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

What did the brothers fear? Was it justified?

How does this phrase (“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good”) relate to your life?

How can acknowledging “you meant evil against me” be helpful?

T. D. Jakes said, “I think the first step is to understand that forgiveness does not exonerate the perpetrator. Forgiveness liberates the victim. It’s a gift you give yourself.”

List some of the ways God used evil for eventual good in the life of Joseph.

The concept of forgiveness has two specific aspects that need to be addressed.

1. God is willing to forgive us.

Kirk Cameron realized God’s willingness to forgive when he said, “I could see that it was God’s forgiveness and His mercy that I needed, and that was provided through Christ on the Cross for those who will receive Him as Lord and Savior. That is how I came to Christ.”

Scripture is clear about God’s forgiveness.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12  

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18-19

When we confess our sins, God forgives us. He removes our transgression as far as possible (east to west). He even casts our sin into the depths of the ocean. The key is for us to accept His forgiveness and not to spend time fishing in those seas “bringing up” past sins that are forgiven.

Billy Graham said, “Man has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness. The other is for goodness.”

Have you accepted God’s forgiveness?

What sin do you need to confess to Him now? How will you avoid repeating the sin?

2. We need to be willing to forgive others.

Matthew 18:21-35 gives a challenging analogy on forgiveness.

“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.’”

How much was the man forgiven?

How much have you been forgiven?

How much was owed to the man?

Who do you need to forgive?

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

How does this verse relate to the topic of forgiveness?

T. D. Jakes said, “We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it’s absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive.” He added, “Forgiveness is about empowering yourself, rather than empowering your past.”


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