Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” He named the second Ephraim, “For,” he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
—Genesis 41:51-52

As we look at the value of our conscience, we see in the life of Joseph a portrait of a clear conscience. Look at Genesis 41:45. “Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenath-paneah.” That means, “God speaks and God lives.” Then Pharaoh gave him Asenath as his wife. With a new name and a new wife, Joseph enjoyed the seven years of abundance that came to Egypt.

Next, we see another way that God blessed Joseph. “Now before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. . . . Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.’ He named the second Ephraim, ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction’” (vv. 50–52). “Manasseh” means “forget,” and “Ephraim” means “God has twice blessed me.” And so, Joseph has two sons, and their names mean “God has ‘Manassehed’ me; He has made me forget“ and “God has ‘Ephraimed’ me; He has twice blessed me.”

When Joseph says, “God has made me forget all of my trouble and all my father’s household,” did he really forget his family? Do you think he could ever forget his brothers’ betrayal? Would he ever forget what Mrs. Potiphar did to him? It’s not that he forgot intellectually, but he chose not to dwell on those past grievances. Instead he said, “Instead of focusing on past grievances, I’m going to focus on God’s blessings.” Each of us has hurts in our life, wrongs that have been committed against us, and ways people have disappointed us. But God also gives us blessings. And we have a choice to make: we can either focus on our grievances or we can focus on our gifts from God. What we choose to focus on will determine the outcome of our life.

Joseph said, “I’m not going to focus on the past. I’m going to focus on God’s blessings.” Now here’s the contrast. Joseph had been in prison and yet he was free spiritually and emotionally because he had chosen to forgive. But his brothers, who were free, at least physically, were in prison spiritually and emotionally because they had a hardened, guilty conscience.

How does God deal with people who have damaged their conscience? If you’re a Christian and you have hardened your heart against God, God is going to take whatever steps necessary to reactivate that conscience, just like He did with Joseph’s brothers. And in Genesis 41, we will see how God began to work in the lives of the brothers to reactivate their conscience toward God.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Value of a Clear Conscience” 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.