As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
Jacob’s legacy reminds me of my dad. My father was saved during World War II. After the war, most of his Christian life was inconsistent. But in May 1982, that changed. The airline my dad worked for went bankrupt, and my dad lost his job of 30 years. But instead of becoming bitter, my dad saw that as a wake-up call. He started reading his Bible and praying and witnessing to people. It wasn’t that he was perfect from that point on, but the last seven years of his life were marked by spiritual transformation. He praised God even in the face of his death. The lasting memory I have of my dad is of him in his bed worshiping God. My dad reminds me that it is possible to change, and that’s what Jacob did for his family.
Look at Genesis 50:15. “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!’” So they came up with an idea. They sent the following message to Joseph: “Your father charged before he died, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father’” (vv. 16-17).
Joseph wept when he got that message, because he realized his brothers didn’t believe that Joseph had forgiven them. And I think God weeps when people refuse to receive His forgiveness. Some of you have a difficult time believing God could forgive you of a particular sin. The reason we struggle with God’s forgiveness is that we assume that God is as unforgiving as we are, but He isn’t. Colossians 2:13 says that God has “forgiven us all our transgressions.”
Notice what Joseph said to his brothers: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20). Think about all the good that came about because Joseph chose to forgive his brothers. Because of Joseph’s forgiveness, his family didn’t starve. But the good didn’t stop there. Not only were his brothers preserved but the entire nation of Egypt was preserved. But the good didn’t stop there. Four hundred years later, Joseph’s family became a mighty nation and returned to the promised land. But the good didn’t stop there. Through the nation of Israel, Jesus was born, and you and I could be saved. All of that happened because of one man’s choice to forgive rather than blame those who had wronged him.
Jacob and Joseph left for their family a legacy of growth and a legacy of faith. They placed their faith not in other people but in God.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Your Greatest Legacy” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.