If anyone had a right to be angry at Jacob it was Esau. After all, Jacob had stolen Esau’s position as the first-born son. Jacob received the blessing from Isaac that should have been Esau’s. Now after twenty years, here come Jacob once again.
But we read one of the sweetest reunions recorded in the Bible in Genesis 33. These two brothers embrace, then part on the best of terms. Why? Because Esau had forgiven Jacob. Esau hadn’t lived all those years harboring hatred or anger or resentment. He refused to carry a grudge and the result was the ability to welcome his brother home.
If you think Jacob didn’t deserve it, you are right. If you think Jacob should have had to face the consequences for his actions, you are right again. But that’s not what happened.
And it’s not what happened with me, either. I’ve sinned against God. I’ve done disgusting, vile things that hurt and angered him. I deserve God’s wrath. I deserve to face the consequences for my sin. But that’s not what happened.
I went to God and, instead of receiving punishment I was offered grace. Instead of condemnation, I was forgiven. I don’t stand before my Holy God vile and filthy as my actions warrant. I stand before him wearing the righteousness and holiness of his Son, Jesus.
I trust you can say the same.
God is reminding me that we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. People do stupid things, mean things, commit thoughtless actions that hurt and anger us. Sometimes people commit disgusting, vile acts toward one another. They lie. The treat us unfairly. (I know I’m guilty, too). And I have to remind myself that God has forgiven me a boatload of sin. He’s asking me to forgive those who have sinned against me, too.
I was thinking about Esau’s family this morning as I was reflecting on this Scripture. If Esau had allowed anger and jealousy to build up over the years, we might be reading about a war here today. Instead of greeting Jacob with a hug, he might have greeted him with 400 warriors armed for battle. There would have been blood-shed. There would have been destruction. Maybe Esau’s family would have been a casualty. But because Esau was able to forgive, his family enjoyed peace as well.
If you are harboring hatred, anger, jealousy, bitterness, and have refused forgiveness to one who has wronged you, I pray that you will rethink that. Turn it over to the Lord. Ask him to help you forgive and he will. Remember that an unforgiving spirit is a cancer that is eating at you and destroying you. Let it go. And think about your family, those precious people you hold dear. They are affected by your bitterness, too. Don’t they deserve better?
Holy God, I thank you for forgiveness. I know that I have been forgiven a multitude of sin. And I’m asking that you’ll help me to forgive as I’ve been forgiven. May I lay all the bitterness and anger at your feet and walk away from it. May I know the joy and peace that comes from forgiving those I feel have wronged me. And may my loved ones recognize a forgiving spirit in me and realize it comes from you, my Savior and Lord.