19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Here are three important things to always remember:
• You (and I) are not God (19). It’s stating the obvious, but we’re not. It is not our job to judge anyone. To our own Master we each stand or fall. (By the way, a weekly sabbath can help us remember we’re not God. It is one of its values. It reminds us that the universe, the world and the church do continue without our efforts. It can keep us in your place, and prepare us for the reality of death, when life will not stop because we have gone. It would, of course, if God were to disappear from the scene, but that is just not going to happen!);
• God is in control (20). Joseph had been given a wonderful perspective on his circumstances. In loving and forgiving his brothers, he did not minimise the gravity of their crimes. He didn’t sweep sin under the carpet. But he recognised that God had a higher purpose in all the wrong intended, and done, to him. The ultimate expression of this principle is worked out at the cross, of which we can say both bad men did it and a good God did it. Both are true (see Acts 4:27,28);
• Treat everyone with kindness and respect, and especially those who mistreat you (21). Joseph shows this is possible by God’s grace (see Romans 12:14;17-21).