Genesis 50:19-20 “But Joseph said to them (his brothers), ‘Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’” (NIV)
The story of Joseph in the Old Testament is a rich story that teaches many truths. Joseph viewed the circumstances of his life through God’s lens instead of his own. Human nature leads you to view life by how it affects you. Positive and negative circumstances can quickly capture your emotions, desires, sin patterns, and thoughts. In an instant, life can intensely become about you. Negative circumstances can quickly unleash emotions and actions that can be damaging to all involved. A life lived for God can quickly be dragged into the mud pits of life. Not only can negative events affect your life; positive events affect your life also. Values that you hold dear can quickly be eviscerated as you replace them with opportunities that success and good fortune might bring.
Your responses to positive and negative events can be influenced by the world’s ways or God’s ways. Romans 12:21 describes this choice: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (NIV) Reject the world’s ways; allow God’s desires to captivate your heart in such a way that His character, direction, and
work flow from a heart controlled by the Holy Spirit. This is where we learn from Joseph. Looking through God’s lens, Joseph did not dwell on what happened to him, but on what God was doing through him. Joseph could have been consumed with hatred and revenge by what had happened to him, but he instead focused on being faithful to God and how his circumstances could be used by God.
Another lesson we learn from Joseph and his
brothers concerns forgiveness. After their father, Jacob, died, Joseph’s brothers immediately feared for their lives because of their past sins and not asking Joseph for forgiveness. Their past had greatly muted God’s work in their lives because of the sin and guilt resulting from what they had done. On the other hand, Joseph had long since forgiven them. He was free to live his life for God while his brothers were held in bondage by their past. They could have confronted Joseph seeking forgiveness for their sins, but they chose to live with the guilt of their past sins. We often stay in bondage to our past sins fearing their consequences of exposing them. The problem with sin is that it stays with you. Even before Joseph disclosed himself to his brothers, they revealed the guilt they still had in Genesis 42:21: “They said to one another, ‘Surely we are being punished because of our brother.’”(NIV) Fifteen plus years had passed since Joseph was sold into slavery, and another twenty plus years had passed when they pleaded for their lives before Joseph in Egypt. They carried this guilt, shame, and fear for over 35 years by seeing life through their distorted lenses rather than God’s perfect lens. God calls you to see and live life through His lens. God calls you to not just believe, but obey by living out His truths. Real freedom is not based on what the world reveres, but what God reveres.
Isaiah 66:2 “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at My word.” (NIV)
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Here are some Bible studies from Growing in Christ to help your transformative experience: “God’s Purpose For You” and “Knowing God’s Will."
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