Letting Go of Offense
Read Psalm 23:5
Whenever I think of this verse, I imagine sitting in the middle of a battlefield. I imagine bullets zinging by me, explosions rocking the ground beneath me, but still, I sit and relax at this amazing picnic prepared for me by the Lord. The stark contrast is that I shouldn’t be comfortable, but when God makes a table, I should know that everything is going to be just fine, right?
But then, take this table scene and imagine yourself preparing a table for your enemy. It seems kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it? Your enemy doesn’t have your best interests at heart, wouldn’t you think? Would they trust any meal made by you?
I think of Joseph, who literally prepared a table for his enemies. If you travel back in the Bible, you’ll find Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery. Talk about being betrayed! His brothers easily went from allies to enemies in a matter of a few moments.
Now, travel ahead a little bit and you’ll find Joseph preparing a table for his brothers. What sort of a meal would you be creating for the family who betrayed you? If you consider all the years Joseph had to prepare and plan for this moment, would you trust the meal, if you were his brother?
We’re heading into a season of preparing tables.
Maybe you prepare your table for someone who has offended or hurt you. Maybe before you prepare that table out of the hurt you carry, you should look at Joseph’s story first.
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Joseph was wronged and had every right to be angry. How could someone not be angry after being so betrayed by family? How could Joseph feel anything else but anger when He realized that the people he should have been able to count on (his big brothers) were the very ones who sold him into slavery AND convinced his father that he was dead? My heart breaks for Joseph as I read his story. My heart breaks for the years that he was robbed of his freedom, his family, and his father. Think of all that they missed out on! He leaves home as a young teen and returns to them a married man and father. His family missed out on some big events in Joseph’s life!
Joseph chose forgiveness. He saw beyond the horrible betrayal to the God who called and put him on this path. He saw the hand of God all over his life. He saw that this season of absence from his family provided and sustained them during this famine. He saw the goodness of God throughout his life. How many of us are willing to look beyond our hurt, beyond our offense, to the God who turns it all around for good?
Joseph spoke kindly to his brothers. When was the last time you sat in close proximity to someone you had wounded through your words and actions? Do you remember how awkward and guilty you felt? Can you imagine Joseph’s brothers sitting at that table? Can you imagine the undeserved kindness they had enjoyed because of Joseph’s relationship with their dad? Can you imagine their fear when their imagined link to Joseph’s kindness had died?
For Joseph to take the opportunity to reassure and speak kindly to his brothers, speaks of his genuine forgiveness. I’ve heard it said that for us to know when we have truly forgiven someone, is that we are able to wish them well. Joseph was truly able to wish his brothers well and continue providing for them. Are you able to look at those who have offended you and truly wish them well? Are you praying for God to bless them?
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Joseph had set a table for the very same people who had hurt him. He had his brothers’ best interest at heart. He had forgiveness in his heart, in his mind, and in his motivations. He prepared the table without the tension, stress, and the feeling of being owed because of their offense. He prepared that table with the intention of getting to know his family better and with the intention of providing for them during the famine. He prepared that table with the freedom of letting go of the past and pursuing the future without baggage.
So as you go to prepare the table for those who may have offended you, choose freedom through forgiveness. Look at the good that God is doing through your life and situation. Look at preparing the table as an opportunity to show genuine forgiveness.