Genesis 50:20-21 “’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.”
Joseph is not afraid to identify his brothers’ actions as evil. “You intended to harm me.” He was not like our mixed-up relativists today. In his book Conversations with God, Author Neal Walsch claims God told him, “I have never set down a right or a wrong, a do or a don’t.” “I do not love good, more than I love bad.” Thus he can even conclude, “Hitler did nothing wrong. Hitler simply did what he did.” This isn’t God talking. This is Neal Walsch putting words in his mouth. Joseph, on the other hand, was not excusing his brothers’ wicked behavior or minimizing it. He does not deny that they did wrong.
But Joseph could forgive it because God forgave it. And Joseph could see how a gracious and forgiving God takes it one step farther. He not only removes the guilt of our sin so that it won’t condemn us. He transforms the consequences of our sins. He takes the evil we have produced and he makes it serve us. That does not mean there is no pain involved. But pain itself is not evil. If we felt no pain, how would we know that we were sick or injured? God uses the misery our sins produce to help us see our spiritual sickness and seek his help.
Sometimes he even turns our evil intent into a tool to help others. “God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” If Joseph is never sold to Egypt as a slave, he never becomes the Prime Minister who can save his family from starvation. If his family dies from starvation, God’s plan to save the world dies, because this was the family that was going to produce Jesus our Savior. So God used the evil decision of Joseph’s brothers not to save them alone. He used it to save you. His ability and desire to use our evil for his good is part of the comfort he offers to forgiven people.
Thus Joseph paints the beautiful picture of family reconciled, reconciled to each other because they were reconciled to God. “‘So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”
Could your broken relationships look so beautiful? Our Lord has already given forgiveness to us. May he use us to pass it on to those who have hurt us, too.