Encroaching on the Place of God

Message:  When Jacob died and Joseph and his brothers went home, fear came over them. They assumed that Joseph had only been good to them for the sake of their father. Now that he was dead they feared that Joseph would unleash a hidden grudge and punish them for all of the suffering they caused. They came up with a false story and told Joseph that their father had made a command before his death. When they Joseph he wept and asked them “am I in the place of God?” He acknowledged that although they planned evil, God had used it for good to save and protect them all. He promised that he would take care of them and their children.

Command: Look at the bigger picture. Our hurts give us the idea that something is owed to us, but when we recognize the place of God we realize that regardless of the pain, nobody owes us anything.

Promise: If we don’t go bitter and demand judgment for trespasses against us, God will use the pain of what we endure to propel us into something that could never compare to any repayment.

Warning: If we insist on hanging onto our bitterness God is unable to use it for our good. We will drown in the misery of our judgment and never feel satisfied. God also reminds us that if we do not forgive others, we forfeit his gracious forgiveness in our own trespasses. We can’t afford this sacrifice and hanging onto our offenses is not worth it!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Application: The line that screamed at me in this story was “am I in the place of God?” It’s one thing to forgive someone, but if I’m honest sometimes I feel so benevolent about it. As if forgiving someone is an act of kindness of my own. Joseph understood that to do anything other than forgive would be encroaching on the very place of God. This wasn’t just an act of kindness. It was conviction and obedience. I’m not taking away from Joseph the tenderness in his heart. He spoke kindly to his brothers  and promised to care for them but reading this I understood that Joseph had an understanding that God uses people and situations in spite of the motives of people. He wasn’t hung up on holding an offense against his brothers because he saw something bigger than them all. This reminds me of the importance of pulling back the focus on situations. People will do what they do and regardless of their motives I need to look  at the bigger picture and respect the place of God. We would never seat ourselves in the judge’s seat in a courtroom so why would we stand in the place of God in our hearts?

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