Experiencing family conflict? Comes with the territory, doesn’t it? In fact, our emotions and personalities lead us to treat our family members in ways we aren’t proud of. Joseph gives us a great example of reflecting the Lord in our treatment of the ones we love…
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Once Jacob had passed away, Joseph’s brothers suddenly became afraid of Joseph again. They thought it was pay-back time. In fact, they believed there was so much risk that they fabricated a story that Jacob gave instructions for Joseph to forgive them. Which he had already done. Joseph wept.
It’s sad, really, when family relationships decline to the point that siblings are afraid the others will stab them in the back. Especially after there has been a reconciliation. Was Joseph showing signs of his power going to his head? Were the brothers still feeling so guilty about what they did that they remembered their guilt every day?
People can’t live like this… no wonder Joseph wept. I weep for them.
Joseph’s answer to them restored family balance. Whether he caught himself acting out on previous ways or whether they were jumping to conclusions, Joseph put his brothers at ease. Here’s what he said:
God is sovereign over you and me.
God used our circumstances for good in his timing.
I will act kindly toward you in light of God’s grace.
Isn’t this a great model for our conflict resolution in families? Sometimes we have to look forward to see how our circumstances could turn out for good, yet quite often we can reflect that God has already done this in our lives.
The bottom line is that we must always treat each others within the shadow of God’s grace. He has shown it to me, and so I must show it to you…