Now the men were afraid, because they were brought to Joseph’s house.
—Genesis 43:18

If Jacob is a portrait of pride, then his sons illustrate another reason that people refuse to respond to grace. Joseph’s brothers are a portrait of fear. Sometimes people refuse to come to God out of pride, but other people refuse to come out of fear.

The brothers journey from Canaan to Egypt, where Joseph’s servant tells them that Joseph would like to see them at his house. How did the brothers respond to that invitation? “Now the men were afraid, because they were brought to Joseph’s house” (Genesis 43:18). That doesn’t make sense. Why would they be afraid about an invitation to the governor’s house? If your governor invited you to come and have a feast with him, would you be afraid? The brothers were still reeling with guilt from what they had done to their brother 22 years earlier, and guilt makes us fearful. When all is not right between you and God, you’re afraid of everything. That’s the problem of a guilty conscience. The brothers are fearful of what the governor is up to.

They come up with their own conclusion of what’s going on. They said, “It is because of the money that was returned in our sacks the first time that we are being brought in, that he may seek occasion against us and fall upon us, and take us for slaves with our donkeys” (v. 18). Now think about this, here’s the governor of Egypt. He has hundreds of thousands of slaves, tens of thousands of horses and chariots, and yet these brothers say, “Oh, he must want us for slaves and he must want our donkeys.” That’s how a guilty mind thinks. A lot of people refuse to come to God because they’re afraid of what He wants from them. They say, “If I give my life to God, He might ask something of me.” The brothers were fearful and yet they had no choice. So they came before the servant with trepidation. They tried to explain what had happened. They said, “We do not know who put our money in our sacks” (v. 22).

Notice what happens next. The servant said, “Be at ease, do not be afraid” (v. 23). Some of you are afraid to come to God because of what you’ve done in the past; there is some sin in your life that you hope nobody ever finds out about it. Maybe the stain of your sin is so deep or you have been away from God for so long, you are afraid of what it would mean for you to come to God. Let me remind you of something: if God were angry with you, if He had wanted retribution, you would already be gone by now. He could have destroyed you in an instant. The fact that you are alive right now means God loves you, He is gracious toward you, and He is not willing for you to perish. God is saying to you today, “Be at ease. Do not be afraid.” The Bible says, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Come and Dine!” 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.