And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.
Joseph had already forgiven his brothers. He was not holding a grudge against them. In fact, he had been able to see how God worked everything out for good, and he was just thankful and grateful to be with his family again and to have the opportunity to bless them. Joseph had been able to come to terms with how his life had gone and was completely at peace, not looking for revenge. His brothers, on the other hand, still had not been able to let it go and put it all behind them.
Sometimes we just need to let the past be past. Joseph had offered grace to his brothers, but they refused to accept it. They refused to forgive themselves. They refused to let go of that mistake they had made, and it was crippling them still in their lives. But we don’t need to live our lives with guilt and fear when grace and forgiveness have already been offered to us. We don’t need to keep condemning ourselves when God has set us free from the sins of our past. We don’t need to continue living in that bondage and fear punishment for sins that have been washed away.
But sometimes that’s easier said than done. Sometimes when we feel what we’ve done is particularly bad, we build up the magnitude of it so much in our minds that we place it outside the reach of mercy. We so despise ourselves for what we’ve done that we’d almost rather be punished for it than forgiven. But those are the moments we have to learn to have a little bit of grace for ourselves. We have to trust the overarching grace of Jesus Christ that covers every single sin. And we have to sometimes force ourselves to just let it all go.
What kinds of things are we holding on to from our past? What mistakes have we made that we just can’t get over? Let’s take an honest look deep into our hearts and bring those things before the Lord. Let’s deal with them right now and not let them have power over us any longer. Let’s ask God to give us grace to forgive ourselves and to accept His mercy for our sins. And let’s let go of the fear and self-condemnation that prevents us from living in the freedom God has offered to us. He is willing to be gracious, so may we be gracious with ourselves, as well.