The children’s Sunday School has been working it’s way through Genesis and most recently has been considering the story of Joseph. I was struck by this reflection that Calvin had on this part of the book.
“If Joseph had stopped to dwell upon his brother’s treachery, he would never have been able to show a brotherly attitude toward them. But since he turned his thoughts to the Lord, forgetting the injustice, he inclined to gentleness and kindness, even to the point of comforting his brothers and saying: ‘It is not you who sold me into Egypt, but I was sent before you by God’s will, that I might save your life’ [Gen. 45:5, 7-8 p.].” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, I. XVII. 8.
The funny thing about nursing a grudge, is that the person who holds the grudge always believes that they are justified, and perhaps sometimes they are. But that is what makes the example of Joseph all the more impacting. No one would deny that he had been sinned against, yet he chose not to dwell on his brothers’ offense. His heart loved his brothers and was willing to reconcile before they showed signs of remorse, and when they humbled themselves he was abundant in his mercy. Truly, Joseph is an example of God’s grace in action.
“So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:12-13)