Links Daily Devotional

The Gift of Forgiveness

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20, NIV)

If you desire ever to compete well at golf, you must learn to forgive yourself. You are going to miss a two-footer somewhere. You are going to have to hit a shot on the next tee. And in-between those two, you are going to have to forgive yourself.

Yet all the time, I hear golfers in their post-round recounts saying words like these: “I can’t believe I missed that two-footer on seven.”

Forgiveness is hard to come by. Even from yourself. Even in a game.

The Old Testament story of Joseph is well-known. Sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, the young man rises to become second only to Pharaoh. As the account progresses, just as he had long before dreamed, Joseph’s brothers bow to him, begging for the food that would keep them alive.

Past that oft-told part of the story, after Joseph has moved his father’s entire household to Goshen in Egpyt, we find a gem of forgiveness, almost unmatched in Scripture. Joseph’s father Jacob finally dies in his old age and is buried in Canaan. This sends a shiver of panic through his brothers. Now that our father is dead, they reason, Joseph may be preparing to exact his revenge on us. So they write a letter to Joseph, presenting a lie that their father had told them to tell Joseph to forgive them.

Upon reading the letter, Joseph weeps. It is apparent from the narrative that whether it was his brothers or his father who had asked for this forgiveness, Joseph is weeping because they had not recognized the change in his heart. God had moved him far past his youthful pride and caused him to recognize the true source of all he had been given. But Joseph wipes those tears, swallows his pride once more, and says to his brothers, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?” Then he tells them that it was God’s sovereign plan to move him through the great trials of his life to this place of life-saving leadership. Joseph fully forgave his brothers.

Now lest you say that this was not so hard for Joseph now that he was on the luxurious side of his troubles, consider these other tear-tinged words: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Here was Jesus on the cross, no comfort, no luxury, no mercy. And yet he was forgiving, knowing as Joseph did that God always plans for the saving of many lives.

In Jesus, our lives have been saved. As our sacrifice, he is our Savior. From the manger to the cross, Jesus set many examples for us. But because it is the practical application of his grace, there may be no greater example than this: forgive. It is in our forgiving of others that we display the extent of our trust in God—trust that he intends our trouble for good.

Jeff Hopper

March 14, 2013

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