Thursday, January 15, 2015

Guilty Conscience

When Joseph’s brothers were faced with having to leave Simeon behind while they returned to their father (with the first-round of food), they immediately concluded they were being punished by God because of having mercilessly sold their brother Joseph into slavery. Then, years later, after their father had died, the brothers once again feared retaliation. However, this time it was the anger of their own brother (Joseph) that they feared. In both instances, the brothers’ collective consciences were pierced and pained with guilt.

In the latter case, Joseph mercifully and kindly reassured his brothers they had nothing to worry about. He had truly forgiven them. Although Joseph at first tested his brothers to see if they had gotten control of their jealousy, once he was satisfied, he was able to let it go. (Judah spoke for the brothers, explaining that if Benjamin was prevented from returning to his father, the brothers were concerned that the news would kill their father. They thus demonstrated move love for their father’s welfare than their own jealous acceptance of their father. Jacob had a favorite son and they accepted it. That was no longer important—what was important was that they get Benjamin home safe.)

If the brothers had learned that point before they jealously sold Joseph into slavery, all the pain of conscience they suffered would never have been experienced. It really drives home the point of how we respond to the way we perceive how others treat (or don’t treat) us. Getting angry is not only counterproductive but can yield years of pain and guilt. This is true not only in our relationship with others but even more so with our relationship with God. Due to the misrepresentation by many clergy that God is to blame for loss of life, people become embittered against God himself when he is not the responsible party at all!

In our relationship with others, the Bible has counsel that is both reasonable and wise. If we apply that in our lives, we will save ourselves from heart-wrenching regrets.

Once we mature and “get some smarts,” we usually end up regretting not only how we treated others but how we could have ever doubted a loving creator. It is heartwarming to know that just like Joseph (but on a much broader scale), Jehovah is willing to forgive those that are truly remorseful and demonstrate a changed heart.

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