Revenge is best served cold, or so they say, but revenge is the opposite of how we are meant to live our lives. Revenge is when our jealousy over a situation takes over and we want to repay evil with evil because someone took advantage of us or someone around us. If we are not careful we can become a bondage to revenge whereas it drives who we are. It is hard to sleep and focus when your desires are to get back at someone else for what they have done to us. Of course, this is not how God wanted us to live, Jesus taught of forgiveness and servanthood, yet we have missed this part and wonder why our relationship with God is not as strong as we would like it to be.
So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.”
Genesis 41: 41-44
Joseph had followed God faithfully why he was incarcerated, during that time he had made some connections and eventually it leads him to an audience with Pharaoh. He was given an almost impossible task to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream. But the authority in which Joseph gave the interpretation convinced Pharaoh that he had God’s ear and Pharaoh lifted Joseph up to a place of power. Many men now in Joseph’s position would now have taken the opportunity to seek revenge for all those who had to lead him to this place. He could raise an army and seek out to destroy his brothers. He could order Potiphar and his wife to be executed. He could have dealt with the cupbearer who promised years earlier to remember him when he was released.
As we read the story further we see the character of Joseph as in the fact that he had no interested in revenge. We have no written record of him dealing with Potiphar or the cupbearer, yet we have a beautiful story of him reuniting with his brothers. The famine hit so hard that Joseph’s family was affected, and Egypt was the only supplier of food. His brothers were sent for food, to a foreign land they most likely had never been. Some may say the way Joseph treated his brothers before he revealed himself was revenge, I beg to differ. Joseph wanted to ensure that his brothers had truly changed. Were they remorseful for their actions did they know what they had done was wrong? We learn that they had lived with the burden of what they had done as it had crushed their father and changed the way they were living life.
Joseph’s brothers did not quite grasp what he was doing for them, they fully expected him to take revenge once their father had passed away. They even threw themselves at his mercy offering their lives as a slave. But Joseph would have none of it:
His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:18-21
Jesus taught us to forgive those who trespass against us. He warned us against plotting evil as it was the same as murder. The amazing thing about Jesus is that he takes what Joseph did one step further. He doesn’t test us to check if were remorseful for what we have done. He accepts us as we are. Where we are. We do not have to get our lives right before Jesus will accept us, we do not have to live in fear that one day his hammer of justice will fall on us seeking repayment for what we have done. He has forgiven us and brought us close without fear or revenge.
Are you living today in the bondage of revenge, looking for an opportunity to strike at someone for what they have done to you? Maybe it is time to act like Joseph and forgive, be the man who God is calling you to be and make the first step to reconcile the situation. It could be with family, friends or coworkers, whoever it is to have a strong relationship with God we must forgive those who have hurt us. Holding back this forgiveness and plotting revenge will be a roadblock from experiencing joy. Let forgiveness win over revenge. Revenge is best served in the form of forgiveness. They will never see it coming.
Father, I pray today if we are holding something close that is against anyone you would show us and help us forgive that person. We may not be at fault but if we would be the bigger person and make the first step of reconciliation it will change how we live in Christ. Give us the strength to do this. This is not easy but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can do all things. Let our change be an example of your love to all around me. Use me to reach my family, friends and coworkers as well as those I have not yet made contact with. Even today we need to share your love. Give me a courageous faith to be free to share your love. Amen