Repentance and Forgiveness
“Repentance may be old-fashioned, but it is not outdated so long as there is sin.” – J.C. Macaulay
The story of Joseph’s life gives a great example of the need for repentance and forgiveness. We need repentance and forgiveness as much today as was needed thousands of years ago. We need this because of the sin-nature of man’s heart. Where there is evil, chaos, hatred, distain, scorn or bitterness, repentance and forgiveness are needed. The world needs healing from this and God has given us a great example to follow through Joseph.
Genesis 37:2-8 sets the stage for Joseph as demonstrated through the hatred his brothers had for him. In these verses, the word hate is used three times. Joseph’s brothers could not stand him, they could not address him or look at him kindly. However, just because Joseph was favored by Jacob, it was not an excuse to hate him or treat him as an enemy. The condition of their hearts was in a bad place; full of pride, envy and hate. What likely started out as a small sin in the hearts of the brothers, grew to a place where they felt it was okay to stage Joseph’s death. Yet, God had a mission for Joseph.
We live in a fallen world, one beset with sin. This can be tough to understand for a believer because many have a wrong view of what a believer’s life can bring. Just because God has a mission for your life doesn’t mean that you won’t experience ups and downs, successes and challenges. Being a believer does not mean that you will not suffer. What God demonstrates through Joseph is that He brings things full circle. Look at the two tests Joseph gave to his brothers when they arrived in Egypt looking for food. God, through Joseph’s tests, demonstrated what a repentant heart looks like.
The first test (Gen 42:17-24) was spotted by Reuben when they were put into jail. He reasoned that they were being punished for their past sins, what they did to Joseph. The test really comes into light when they are required to leave Simeon behind as they head back home. Would they come back for Simeon or would they leave him in jail? Would the brothers demonstrate that they have learned a lesson? Ultimately, the brothers do come back to Egypt with Benjamin like Joseph asked them to do; demonstrating that their hearts have been changed.
As if the first test was not enough, Joseph tests their hearts one more time by creating a trap to imprison Benjamin (Gen 44:16-34). Once Benjamin is taken, Judah shows his repentant heart. Where 20 years earlier he had hatred for his brother Joseph and led the plot against him, Judah is now begging Joseph to allow him to switch places with Benjamin. Judah demonstrated real change. Judah demonstrated that repentance is not just being sorry because you will be punished for something. It is changing our mind, causing you to turn away from sin. Judah did not demonstrate with words alone, but by his actions in demanding that he take Benjamin’s place in jail.
In the same way, Christians must be people who are able to repent before the Lord. We need to repent daily because we fall short of His glory. What was true of Judah then is true of us now. We need to ask God to cleanse our heart. It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. Judah and his brothers repented, now the choice was up to Joseph: do I grant forgiveness, or do I hold on to resentment? Joseph chose forgiveness because repentance leads to forgiveness. Today, this means that the Church must lead the way in both repentance and forgiveness.
To view the service & listen to the full sermon by Pastor Danny on 6/7/20 click here: Repentance and Forgiveness