Restoring a Broken Relationship: Granting and Seeking Forgiveness
“You say you’re sorry! No….. you say you’re sorry!”
Does this conversation sound familiar to you? Sometimes, relationships can be hard. The people we love can hurt us deeply and it can cause a rift between us and them. Conflict can leave us feeling betrayed and wounded emotionally, physically, and mentally. How should we handle a situation when we are feeling wronged? How do we forgive and grant forgiveness to those who have hurt us?
The story in Genesis 50 is a big help when we think about granting and seeking forgiveness. A man named Joseph had a long list of reasons as to why he should not forgive his brothers.
Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and sold him into slavery. Then while he was a slave in Potiphar’s home, Potiphar’s wife decided to accuse him of rape. Potiphar had Joseph put in prison. However, through a twist of events, Joseph was released from prison because God gave him the gift of dream interpretation. He was the only who could help Pharaoh, the most powerful person in Egypt, understand his dream. Joseph was elevated right away from being a prisoner to being second in command.
What were Pharaoh’s dreams about? They were about Egypt having seven years of food abundance and then seven years of famine. Joseph instructed Pharaoh that they must prepare for the famine. While the famine took place, Joseph’s eleven brothers were sent to Egypt. Joseph recognized his brothers but they did not recognize him. However, through a series of events, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and their relationship ship was restored. Also, Joseph was able to restore his relationship with his father, Jacob.
But now, in Genesis 50, the Bible says that Joseph’s father died and his brothers were afraid that Joseph was going to hold a grudge on them. Through this story we can learn five key principles of how to restore a relationship with someone who has hurt our feelings.
First, admit you are wrong. You heard me right. Go ahead. Confess that what you did to a person was wrong. Joseph’s brothers finally realized that that what they did to Joseph was wrong and they were scared that now that their father was dead that he would hold a grudge against them (Genesis 50:15). Have you admitted the sin you have committed against someone else?
Second, Joseph’s brothers humbled themselves before him. The Bible says that they threw themselves at Joseph and said we are your slaves (Genesis 50:18). They finally came to a place of humility. When you are looking to receive forgiveness to the person you have hurt it is really helpful to be humble. How can you show humility to the person you have hurt? You can cry, sincerely apologize, buy a person a card, or write them a letter. There are many ways you can show humility to others.
Third, Joseph granted forgiveness to his brothers. If you are the person who has been offended by another person and he/she asks for forgiveness the best gift you can give to that person is to accept their apology. The Bible says that Joseph said to his brothers, “don’t be afraid” (Genesis 50: 19). Have you forgiven the person who has hurt you or are you still holding a grudge? Are you giving him/her the silent treatment? Do you still have bitterness in your heart? Perhaps you need to take your feelings to God and ask him to help you release your pain? Joseph saw the humility in his brothers and he granted them forgiveness.
Fourth, Joseph said to his brothers, “Am I in the place of God” (Genesis 50:19) Joseph’s response to his brothers can help us to realize that even though we will all face hurt and deep pain in life we must keep our perspective right. Now that Joseph is older and time has passed, he realizes that even though what he went through was hard that God had a plan and purpose. What was God’s plan? To send someone in advance, Joseph, to help God’s people, the Jews, during the famine time that would take place in Egypt. That means all the hard things Joseph had to go through helped Joseph. Joseph’s betrayal from his brothers, Potiphar’s accusation, being forgotten in prison, was hard but in the end God used all of those hard things to lead Joseph to be a powerful person when it was the right time. In our life, we all will face hard things but looking back we will say like Joseph – we are not God but what others meant for evil God will use for our good. Joseph’s pain lead him to power which then lead him to help his family and many others during the famine.
Fifth, Joseph told his brothers not to be afraid and he would take care of them and their children. Also he spoke kindly to them (Genesis 50: 20-21). Joseph made a choice to do good to his brothers even though they were not good to him.
If you want to experience freedom from anger, pain, and hurt feelings in your life, just like Joseph we must forgive and we can also do good to those who have hurt us.
In my own life, I have had people not treat me well. In some cases, I was able to have relationship restoration and in other cases I have not. However, whether a person has asked for forgiveness or not I have made a choice just like Joseph that it is better to do to those who have not been good to you. I have still visited, phone called, or sent flowers to those who have hurt my feelings. Just like Joseph I believe in Romans 12: 12 “do not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good.”
So…. In your life what sins do you have to admit you have made against others?
Who do you need to show humility towards?
Who do you need to grant forgiveness towards?
Maybe you need to re-look at your situation from a different angle and realize that God can use your pain for your good.
Who do you need to do good to even though they have not been good to you?
Relationships can be hard but with God’s help and power you and I can have peace again.
Father, Thank you for showing me that I can forgive. I ask that you forgive my sins and give me power to forgive those who have hurt me. I want peace in my life. I admit that I have made mistakes. I pray for humility. I also pray for you to help me grant forgiveness to those who have hurt me. I pray that I will see that no matter what has happened in my life, that you are good and you will take care of me. I pray that I will do good to those who have hurt me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
To watch the full sermon on this topic please click here.