Genesis 42:6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. Proverbs 18:19a An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city…
If anyone in scripture had occasion to be offended and respond in kind it was Joseph. His brothers’ actions resulted in him being in slavery and prison for 13 years. When he recognized his brothers when they came for wheat, he could have exercised extreme vengeance upon them. He could have made them pay for what they did to him. But he didn’t.
Upon recognizing them and seeing them bow in front of him, Joseph remembered his dreams. Fortunately for his brothers, Joseph had responded righteously to their actions and was not a man to take revenge. He did cause them a bit of grief – but nothing like he could have done. He was not ready to reveal himself to them but his actions enabled him to sustain the encounter with them. He wanted to see Benjamin and Jacob. Imagine all the thoughts that must have been running through his mind.
His example of his Godly response to their actions is so important. Taking offense and then allowing that condition to fester are to be avoided like the plague! They are a hotbed for unrighteousness. As Proverbs 18:a describes, allowing ourselves to become offended, and not dealing with it, will result in us becoming as unyielding as a fortified city. We become unresponsive to reasonable overtures from others. Unfortunately that isn’t the worst of it. We become unresponsive to the Spirit of God working in us to promote righteousness. We will tend to stonewall Him just like we do everyone else.
Yes offenses can hurt and deeply wound, but we have a Savior who has made a way for us to respond with grace and forgiveness. We must be on our guard to recognize when offense happens and respond in Christlike fashion – versus yielding to the temptation to sin that it is. We begin with forgiveness and then look to Him to help us deal with all the attendant feelings we typically have. It might take some time, but it is a pathway of righteousness leading to life.
It’s difficult to imagine anything happening to us to compare with what happened to Joseph. Yet he dealt with it righteously – and he did not have the new nature, freed from the power of sin that we Christians have. His focus was upon God. He is a stellar example of God’s way to respond to the negative actions of others. Today, ask the Lord to show us if there is anywhere in our lives where we need to deal with this.