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 50:19-21 NIV

In middle school, I pulled a practical joke on a neighborhood friend in class that made everyone laugh at him. His embarrassment turned into a grudge. Even though I apologized, he said, “I’m gonna get you back, not now…but it will happen.” I was frustrated that I could not resolve the matter. Even worse, I had this constant fear that something bad was going to happen to me at some time in the future.

Joseph and his brothers’ dad, Jacob, died. The brothers knew that Joseph had every right to continue to hold a grudge against them. They had treated him harshly as a younger brat brother. They sold him into slavery and lied to his father that he had been killed by a wild animal. They never tried to find him and restore the relationship. Thus, they robbed him of a lifetime of family.

To be afraid of Joseph was very understandable. As a prominent official in Egypt, he had authority over their food, lives and families. In verse 18, one of Joseph’s dreams was fulfilled when the  brothers collectively bowed down before him and declared that they were his slaves. They were afraid of Joseph.

Note: Unresolved fear always leads to a type of slavery. Fear is often fueled by our perceptions of what others are thinking about us. “Is the boss mad at me? They didn’t like my report, I am not good enough. My husband is angry because I forgot, I don’t know what he will do?” Joseph’s brothers were afraid of retribution now that their father was dead.

Be Like Joseph

  • Joseph does not judge, for God is the ultimate judge
    • Verse 19 – Rather than hold a grudge, Joseph shifts the responsibility for judgment to God. “Am I in the place of God?” 
    • This is the first step in forgiving and releasing fear, you let God deal with the injustice. He is big enough and skilled enough to properly deliver justice.
  • Joseph reflects on his past injustices and sees how God works positively through it
    • Joseph moves from intended victim to the intended goodness of God
    • This can be a difficult step in forgiveness. Gaining God’s perspective on the injustices of our lives is possible, but only He can provide this helpful revelation to resolve the matter
  • Joseph speaks  peace and faith necessary for them to remove their fears.
    • He speaks about providing for their physical needs, housing, clothing, and food.
    • He reassures them. The implication is repetition. Not one conversation.
    • He speaks kindly to them. Tone is helpful, Word choice is helpful. 

To be like Joseph, you may be the KEY to help someone overcome their fears.

  • Speak God’s perspective to help them see what God sees about their situation.
  • Speak truth often. It is okay to find different ways to communicate how fear can move to a healed relationship
  • Ask God to help you speak with a kind tone and word choice. Words matter, tone also matters. Kindness always has a pure taste when offered.
  • It is interesting to note, acting like Joseph is a lot like acting like Jesus as He interacts with us to help us overcome our fears.

My friend finally did something that he thought would cause me pain, I honestly can’t remember what it was.  In some ways for me it was over, but he continued to harbor unforgiveness. I was a vocal Christian and felt I had caused a stumbling offense that made it hard for my friend to become saved. I am still asking God to save him though I have talked to him since high school. May what I intended for harm eventually work toward his salvation.

Blessings Love y’all