As we have seen throughout our Dirty Jobs series, our relationship with each other is a reflection of our relationship with God, there is a spiritual component to Running towards Reconciliation, but there is also a practical component.
After Joseph’s brother Judah offers to take the place of his brother Benjamin, he becomes overcome with emotion and is finally ready to reveal his true identity. In the process he shows us that:
Reconciliation Avoids Revenge and Starts Rebuilding (Genesis 45:3-5, 8-10) 3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” (Doing well?) But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.
If you’ve ever seen Undercover Boss, there is always that shock at the revelation that the person you’ve interacted with is something more than he appeared. But you can understand the shock and cowering response of the brothers. If this was a movie, this would be where the crowd is cheering for the brothers to get what they deserve, this is the Hatfields and McCoys, Israel versus Palestine, escalation and retaliation without end, and yet Joseph voices a theology that is the center of his life: God has ultimately been in control even when life felt out of control. Joseph has to actually draw them back because they are expecting what’s natural to come from Joseph.Our revenge takes us down a road that ultimately is a dead end. A mortician at Forest Lawn Cemetery in California shared a unique experience he had with a man who had taken the time to set up everything for his own funeral. He had chosen the person to do the service, planned the music, picked a location and burial plot, but he went above and beyond customary. It stood out in his mind because he had spent $200,000. Estranged from his wife and children, the man was so bitter that he didn’t want to leave them anything so he tried to shove it in their face by making sure his funeral would drain his accounts. Because the casket and other expenses only added up to $100,000 he ordered that the remaining $100,000 be spent on orchids. The kicker when he passed away was that only three people actually attended the memorial service. He had wasted everything trying to get even—up until the end.
Joseph in relationship with God was able to see that instead of buying into revenge and tearing down what was already broken, God wanted him to start building sometimes that would be of towering significance: 8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. He isn’t just providing for his family’s welfare, but for the welfare of the world. His service becomes the platform in which the entire nation of Israel was built up and from which Jesus Christ will step out.
You probably don’t have to think back too hard to remember the last time you played over what revenge would feel like or look like in your head, sometimes it can become a repeat movie that we feed off of telling your boss to go jump in a lake, getting back at an ex who dumped you, but what’s the ultimate result of revenge? Revenge puts us in a place where the world revolves completely around us, while all along, through every situation, God wants relationship with us. 1 Corinthians 1:9 reminds us of what we can so easily forget when life gets painful: God, who called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. If God is working for your good—then revenge is pointless—why would you work to get even—when God is willing to work to get you ahead? Where do you need to stop stalling and start running towards reconciliation? I know what you are saying—but Steven, you don’t know what they did to me! You’re right, but God does—and what you are powerless to achieve on your own, God is powerful enough to attain.