This week’s sermon was a continuation in our Freedom in Christ series. Pastor Chris taught from the story of Joseph, who experienced many injustices yet kept his heart right before the Lord. We all experience injustice in our life and must take care to watch over our heart, forgiving those who hurt us and uprooting all bitterness.
Joseph did not…
- Minimize: “Oh, it’s really not that bad. Other people have it far worse.”
- Excuse: “He/She really didn’t mean that. It was just an accident.”
- Deny: “What conflict? What betrayal? What hurt? “
- Delay: “Time will heal it. The healing will come someday.”
- Ignore: “It’s just part of my past. I’m moving on.”
- Accept: “It’s part of who I am. It’s normal for me. I just need to accept that.”
Genesis 45:1–8 (ESV)
1 Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. 3 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. 4 So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Matthew 18:32–35 (ESV)
32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Signs of unforgiveness in our lives…
• Do you tend to nurse grudges for extended periods of time?
• Have you found yourself strategically avoiding certain people?
• When you hear someone’s name, do you feel anger, sadness, or the need to withdraw?
• Does it bother you when something good happens to the person who harmed you?
• Imaginary conversations with someone in your head?
• Do you gossip about or slander those who have hurt you in the name of “venting” or “being honest”?
• Could you be described as “punchy” “edgy” or “biting”?
Identifying True Forgiveness
• You choose to forgive and genuinely desire the best for them.
• You can confidently and freely pray blessing over them.
• You desire to love them in increasing measure.
• You have no desire for vengeance or to expose them to shame.
• You do not hold their sin against them or keep bringing it up.
Luke 23:34 (ESV)
34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
- Think of a time you experienced an injustice. How did you deal with it, and did it involve the unhealthy way of coping Chris mentioned (minimizing, excusing, denying, delaying, ignoring or accepting what happened)?
- Several times in this story, it says God was with Joseph during the injustice; can you look at past or current injustice and see how God was with you and helped you?
- Read the “signs of unforgiveness in our lives” section of the notes again; are any of these occurring in your heart? Who do you need to forgive?
- Sometimes it takes time to see how God turns evil for good, but do you have testimony of how God has turned an injustice for your good? Share with your group so they can be encouraged.
- Pastor Chris mentioned he was able to forgive in his mind long before he could forgive in his heart. Spend time this week sitting with the Lord evaluating if this could be true for you too. Then, spent time repenting for unforgiveness, releasing the other person and the right to know why they hurt you, and blessing them. If you need extra support, reach out to a Life Group member or trusted friend to pray with you.