And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. - Genesis 41:39-40
On the surface, there's no new revelation here. I mean, we all know the story of Joseph. Most of us have heard it since we were in diapers. Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dreams, so Pharaoh made him ruler over all the land. It's a big deal, but to be honest, after hearing the story so many times, this order of events lacks the "shock and awe" factor. But when I began thinking about what this order of events entails, I was amazed.
Joseph was made ruler over all the land, all the people. Only Pharaoh was higher than he was. Everyone else answered to Joseph. Everyone! That included Potiphar (who had thrown Joseph in jail), Potiphar's wife (who had lied about Joseph and accused him of wrongdoing), the butler (who had forgotten about Joseph for over two years), and eventually his own brothers (who had sold him into slavery). Suppose for a moment that you were Joseph and had just been given the news that you were ruler of it all. What would your first thought be?
I don't know about you, but I think I might be seeking some revenge. Yep, payback was certainly in order, wasn't it? These people had done him wrong, and they weren't even sorry about it. Now, Joseph had the chance to make them pay. He could make them suffer like he had suffered. He could get mad and get even, but he didn't. As far as we can tell from the Biblical account, Joseph treated each of them with grace. They didn't deserve it, but then, isn't that what grace is--unmerited favor? Despite their mistreatment of him, Joseph showed mercy and grace. . . and so should we. After all, haven't we been given grace? Do we deserve it? Well, let's see.
I can honestly say that I haven't thrown the Lord in jail nor have I sold Him into slavery, but I have accused Him of wrongdoing when He didn't do things my way, and I have forgotten about Him when things were going well and I didn't think I needed Him. Nevertheless, God has forgiven me. Day after day, He gives me grace. I don't deserve it any more that Potiphar's wife deserved it, but God has given it all the same. Now, it's time for me to follow His example.
There will be people in this life who will hurt you beyond belief. Some will betray your friendship. Some will lie about you. Others will forget you or turn against you. When these things happen, it's so easy to get mad. It's natural to want to get even. But the Spirit reminds us that we have a new nature now, which means the situation merits a new response--grace. No, they probably don't deserve it. But grace reaches out to the undeserving. It reached out to you. It reached out to me. Will you extend it to others?