As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
This is a classic passage on forgiveness. Joseph had been wronged so deeply by his jealous brothers – sold into slavery, transported to a strange land, made a slave in the household of an Egyptian. He would spend 13 years in prison before he is rescued and elevated to prime minister of all Egypt.
Years later, in the midst of a great famine, Joseph rescues his brothers, forgives them and brings them to Egypt. However, when their father Jacob dies, they are terrified that their powerful brother will now take his vengeance. They are scared to death and throw themselves at Joseph’s feet, “We are your servants!”(50:18).
Joseph’s reply is classic: “But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?’” (50:19).
Forgiveness won’t come if we play God. When we are wronged we subconsciously feel we have the right to try, convict, sentence, hold under judgment and retaliate.
But God, not us, is the Judge of all the earth. Only God has the right to judge and execute justice. Refuse to retaliate. Refuse to play God.
Joseph continues: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (50:20).
Notice that Joseph doesn’t deny the wrongdoing. He doesn’t excuse it or whitewash it. “You meant evil against me.”
But he doesn’t stop there. He trusts God to redeem the wrongdoing, to take the harm and bring good out of it.
When we are wronged, we have a choice. We can focus on the wrong, the hurt, the evil. Or, we can focus on God’s heart to bring good out of evil, to redeem the wrongdoing.
Joseph made the choice to forgive, the healing choice. So can you. By God’s grace, so can you.