To get the full scope of the mercy story I am going to share this week, go to Genesis 37 and……. keep reading, for about thirteen chapters.
You’ll recognize you’ve come across a severe mercy story when you read these words in Genesis 50:15:
“When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrong things we did to him?”
One of the first signs of mercy being birthed in a heart is the relinquishment of the desire to pay someone back……or in other words,
though someone deserves your judgment, you show them mercy.
Joseph had eleven brothers. All but two wanted him dead. But instead of killing him, they threw him into pit and seized an opportunity to sell him to Midinanite traders who took him down to Egypt.
He got a little zealous in sharing his dreams (Dreams that indicated his brothers would one day bow at his feet) and flaunting his coat of many colors his father made him.
Some say Joseph probably dug his own pit his brother’s threw him in, but come on…..that’s a little harsh for just being a spoiled little brother.
Joseph’s first encounter with his brothers after the pit incident was approximately twenty-three years later. Little did his brothers know God had indeed raised Joseph up to a position of authority that would set the stage for Joseph’s dream to become reality.
Joseph’s brothers bowed before him before they knew it was him. And Joseph wept. He became so emotional he had to excuse himself so as to not reveal his identity for a time.
Joseph was in the position to pay his brothers back for their evil act of throwing him into a pit, selling him into slavery and wanting him dead. One word and his brothers would be begging for mercy.
But Joseph already had it in his heart to show them mercy.
His ability to offer mercy to his brothers came from his profound trust in God.
When Joseph’s brothers were made aware of who Joseph was, they were scared. In fact, they begged Joseph for mercy.
“Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So, therefore, do not be afraid; for I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21 (NASB)
Joseph was able to show mercy because he ultimately did not give his brothers more power over his life than God’s power over his life.
Joseph knew at the end of the day, his brothers would answer to God, not him. So, he chose mercy and trusted God with the outcome.
Joseph did not just say, “I forgive you, now go your way.” He could have and might have meant it, but his desire was to show mercy. His heart was stirred with affection for his brothers, therefore,
he wanted to DO something to solidify his words.
Sometimes God may move us in the same direction. To not just say the words but show the words. Showing mercy through tangible acts of kindness is powerful to the one who deserves judgment. So powerful, it many times softens a person’s heart and draws them into true sorrow over their sin.
So what if we show someone mercy and they don’t care? What if it changes nothing in their heart? What if they keep going in their own selfish way and never acknowledge their sin?
They will answer to God and experience more consequences for their behavior.
And we will have done what God has asked of us. To show mercy, to be merciful and to love those who do not love us.
Being merciful does not mean we have overlooked what has been done. It does not mean we have not felt the pain of being sinned against. Joseph neither overlooked what his brothers did nor was indifferent to the pain he felt.
But rather than being moved by judgment, Joseph was moved by compassion and trusted God.
Do you have someone who has wounded you and you find yourself feeling compassion towards them? That compassion is from God. Pray about a way to show that person a tangible act of mercy that will let them know you have forgiven them.
Most likely this person knows they’ve hurt you because the offense was severe. Trust God to work through your gift and watch what He will do!
I would love to hear your mercy story. I cry pretty much anytime I see mercy given and mercy received. Maybe because it’s uncommon, yet powerful. It transforms hearts and lives and that’s a beautiful thing to witness.