Posts Tagged ‘God’s sovereignty’

Sometimes the sins people commit against us are easy to forgive, and sometimes they affect our entire lives. The surprising thing is that the sins that hurt us the most aren’t always intentional. Some people have hurt you because they weren’t thinking, and some people have hurt you because they were. When people hurt you without thinking, it seems unjust to call it accidental. It is not accidental so much as consequential. Your pain is the consequence of them thinking of themselves more than you.

Intentional and “accidental” sins can look the same. A 5-year-old can take the last cookie on a plate to intentionally steal it from his little brother, or he could only be thinking of himself when he takes it and his little brother would be hurt accidentally, as a consequence. Either way, the older brother sins – the first way by stealing the cookie on purpose, and the second way by putting himself before his little brother. Either way, his little brother experiences the same pain. One sin is direct, and the other is indirect.

Before confronting someone who’s hurt you, it helps to figure out why they hurt you. Was it because of you? Or was it because of them? Was it purposefully against you? Or was it a consequence of how they naturally are? Deciphering between the two doesn’t make the sin better or worse, but it will help you not to take it so personally, and to approach them in the right way.

Regardless of the kind of sin committed against us, we know we’ve been called to forgive like we’ve been forgiven. It goes without saying that our greatest example is Jesus, but the next person I think of is Joseph. His older brothers intended in their hearts to murder him, and decided it was safer to sell him into slavery. They despised him, so they disposed of him. Their sin against him affected Joseph’s entire life, but his perspective is incredible, and deeply humbling.

When Joseph was at his brothers’ mercy, they showed him no compassion. “We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen,” they said among themselves (Gen. 42:21). But when Joseph’s opportunity came to repay them, he blessed them. He even tried to encourage them, “But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives” (Gen. 45:5).

If Joseph couldn’t credit his brothers with the outcome of his life, who do we have to blame for the outcome of ours? It was God. Who has built us up and who has broken us down? It was God. Who has exalted us and who has humbled us? It was God. Names and faces come to mind when we consider the ones who have affected our lives for the better and for the worse, but at the end of the day… it was God.

Close your eyes and picture the face of the one you’d most blame for your bad outcome… imagine looking at them through the eyes of Joseph, through the eyes of Jesus, and saying through your tears of compassion, “But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourself for (whatever you did). It was God. You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. (Gen. 50:20)”

Now imagine Jesus looking at you through his own tears of compassion as your sin nails him to the cross, comforting you, “But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourself for what you’ve done. It was God. You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” That’s our motivation for compassion. And over all, God is sovereign.

God, even in the meantime when we can’t see the good you have intended in the midst of the offense, help us have Joseph’s perspective so we can stop blaming people (including ourselves) for the mess we’re in and start praising you for all the good you’ve done, and plan to do. Our lives are in your hands, not in the hands of men. Forgive us for not trusting your plan…

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