“And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure (perhaps) hate us, and will certainly requite (repay) us all the evil which we did unto him.”Genesis 50:15
I don’t believe I am alone in saying that I do not like to be take advantage of. My flesh feels that if I am wronged, than I am owed something that I must collect on. God has worked on me in this area for many years, and I’m sure He will continue to work on me until the day I meet Him face to face. I can think of many times as a kid when someone got the best of me and I sought my own revenge, which only led to a bigger fight and a bigger mess. These included fights with my sister, fights with classmates, and even disagreements with teachers where I held contempt and bitterness in my heart. None of my attitudes or actions brought forth godliness and they often brought about more drama than a daytime sitcom.
I was expelled from high school midway through my senior year, and while I was disappointed, I was not surprised. I knew I had generally done enough to be expelled, but my offenses were not technically enough to expel me. The requirement for expulsion was 100 demerits, and I was sitting pretty at 70 demerits. The school board, however, had the liberty to expel anyone they thought was worthy of it, so my case had gone before them for final judicial review. The first semester was coming to an end, and the board met to see if I should be allowed to continue in the second semester.
On the night prior to the board’s final decision, I spoke on the phone to my dad who was out of a town on a work trip. I aired my grievances to him and told him I was not being treated fairly. I told him the allegations against me were not all true, and I believed I was not getting a fair shake. He certainly did not agree with me, and he gave me an action plan of what he wanted me to do. He told me I was to thank every teacher who taught me for taking the time to teach me. That was not my plan. I wanted to punch some in the face, and others I wanted to tell off. However, like most cases, my dad was telling me and not asking me.
The next day came and I was informed I would learn the verdict at the end of the school day. I went to class and at the end of each period, I thanked each teacher and shook their hand, which was hard to do in some cases. The teachers were shocked but shook my hand and said they would miss me (which gave me the verdict prior to hearing it). I did this after every class and with every teacher, and I even saw one teacher shed a tear as I said goodbye. At the end of the day, I met with the dean of students and he gave me the verdict I already knew. He offered to pray with me but I declined, and I shook his hand and walked out of the door. I so badly wanted to take the low road and wreak havoc before I left, but I obeyed the words of my dad.
I know my story does not compare to that of Joseph, but we learn later in this story in Genesis that Joseph was not one to hold a grudge. He did not dwell on his own feelings and circumstances, but He saw how God could work even through the sins of others. He did not seek revenge, and he forgave his brothers of all the wrong they had done to him. The brothers were worried he would seek revenge against them as he had the authority to do so, but Joseph sought to please the Lord and not himself. What a testimony of how we are to respond when we are wronged against, and what a praise to God who will change our motives and responses!
Where are you today friend? Do you seek your own resolution to the problem or are you trusting in God and His plan? The Bible never mentions one instance of Joseph seeking revenge against his hateful brothers. Can this be said of you, or it is known that you will not stop until you are avenged of the misdeed against you? The flesh wants revenge and wars against the Spirit which desires forgiveness and restoration. Praise God that He does not seek revenge against His children, and that He forgives fully and repeatedly. May God help us to remember our own sins before we seek revenge for the sins that have been committed against us.