THE REALITIES OF FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

Scripture Reading: Genesis 50:15-21

“When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him!'” (Genesis 50:15)

Genesis is really a book about families. It begins with a family. When God created the first man, He said ti was not good for the man to be alone. So He created Eve for Adam, and from their union children were born. Later on another essential family is introduced to us — Noah and his family. They were faithful to God and God spared this family when He destroyed the world by the flood. Then later, we are introduced to Abraham and his family, Isaac and his family, and Jacob and his family. We end the book of Genesis with Joseph and his family.

Families are a great blessing, but we must also expect conflict and problems among the members of our families. There are always potential problems because our families are made up of sinful people. Such was the case with Jacob’s family. Now at the end of the book, we see another potential problem within this family.

When Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt to buy food and Joseph revealed himself to them, they were filled with fear. They knew Joseph had the power to do with them whatever he pleased. But instead of being angry and bitter and seeking revenge, they found Joseph to be full of love for them. After Jacob died and the mourning for him was over, the brothers became afraid again, thinking that Joseph would seek revenge — “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil we did to him” (v. 15). They actually came to Joseph with a message they claimed their father had left — “You father gave this command before he died, ‘Say to Joseph, please forgive the transgressions of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you'” (vs. 16,17). Who knows whether or not their father really said this? But to their relief, they found that Joseph was entirely forgiving — “Joseph wept when they spoke to him. He was troubled when they felt this way toward him” (v. 17).

The account reminds us that families are made up of sinful people. Sinful people will hurt and disappoint each other at times. Love and forgiveness are essential for families to be healthy. Since we are a forgiven people we must become a forgiving people.

The brothers had done Joseph a terrible wrong. But Joseph loved them and forgave them. How could he do this? He had been transformed by God. God poured out His love on Joseph and Joseph was able to love his family with the love of God. These are the realities of family relationships. We can expect conflict among family members but the gospel enables us to love, forgive, and be gracious to those who have offended us.

Lord Jesus, grant me grace to be loving and forgiving when someone I love hurts or offends me. Enable me to remember how many times I have grieved You in my sins. Yet, You pour out your love and forgiveness on me in spite of the many offensive ways I have treated You. Thank You for Your patience, kindness, grace and mercy. Thank You for not treating me the way my sins deserve me to be treated.

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