After the death of Jacob, Joseph’s brothers were fearful he would repay them for all the wrongs they had done to him (Genesis 50:15). Their assumption was that Joseph had been kind to them out of respect for their father and now that Jacob was gone, retribution was soon to come. When they met with Joseph, his brothers “fell down before his face; and they said, ‘Behold, we be thy servants.’” (Genesis 50:18)
They completely misunderstood their brother. In response to their plea, Joseph answered, “Fear not: for am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:19b)
Joseph saw everything through God’s lens, even the wrongs that happened to him. Scripture may have kept a list of the wrongs that happened to Joseph, but Joseph did not. The only reason the Bible maintains that list is to show us how Joseph dealt with the injustices that came his way. After being falsely accused and imprisoned by Potiphar and later forgotten in prison by the butler for two years, Joseph took no retaliatory action though he could have. As second to Pharaoh, he had power of life and death over those people. Yet he took no revenge for the same reason he took no revenge on his brothers: vengeance was not his place. If judgment was to happen – or not – it was God’s purview, not his.
How was he able to show such restraint? Was it faith in the justice system? Strength of character? Force of will? While Joseph’s character may have played a part, his character was an outgrowth of something more significant: his faith in God. Joseph trusted everything to Him. What gave him the grace not to seek revenge was his trust in the Lord. He understood that even the faithlessness of others is still in the hands of a faithful God.
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