Every time I read what happened after Jacob’s death it makes me sad. His sons panicked. So they lied to Joseph about their father’s wishes.
“Dad said you should forgive us for being so mean to you when you were a kid. Don’t hurt us now that he’s gone. Dad wouldn’t like that.”
The Bible’s account of Joseph’s reunion with his brothers in Genesis 45 is a beautiful picture of forgiveness. Joseph brought his brothers and their families to Egypt, gave them the best land for grazing their livestock, and took care of them during the famine. How much more could Joseph have done to demonstrate the fact that all was forgiven?
But after all these years since they had been forgiven, Joseph’s brothers must have lived with guilt. It wasn’t Joseph’s forgiveness they needed. It was their own.
When I confess my sin God is faithful and just to forgive me and wash me clean. He promises never to remember my sin or use it against me – ever! But sometimes I live as though I am still guilty. It’s at those times I need to forgive myself. Denying that forgiveness doesn’t honor God. And it’s Satan’s weapon to hold me hostage to that sin.
But, you ask, don’t I deserve to feel guilty for the horrible things I’ve done, the people I have hurt? The answer is, “NO”! Oh, you deserved to feel those feelings before you confessed them to God and received his forgiveness But once you’ve done that you deserve what Jesus died to give you. A fresh start, clean and forgiven.
I don’t believe we should forgive ourselves before we allow God to wash the sin away. But once we have repented and have been forgiven by God himself, we need to forgive ourselves and live our lives free from the burden of guilt. Think of it.
If you are living with guilt, I would encourage you to lay that heavy burden down at Jesus’ feet and walk away, free from it’s hold. Forgive yourself. Jesus did.
Dear God, I pray that your people will see the lengths to which you went to forgive us. You died on the cross, you went to hell then rose again. You paid what we could not pay, then handed us a clean slate just for the asking. Forgive us when we think we need to punish ourselves for past sins that you have already forgiven and forgotten. Father, may each of us sinners repent of sin, accept your forgiveness, forgive ourselves as we have been forgiven, and live lives free of the chains of guilt. And may we, with each breath, honor you with obedience and allow you to fill us with your joy.