15 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
The story of Joseph and his brothers is a great story of forgiveness. From Joseph we learn:
1. Forgiveness is possible only when we have a God-centered view of life rather than a self-centered. "You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good."
We forgive rather than retaliate because that is God's work (Romans 12:17-21).
We forgive because we know God forgives us, and therefore realize others are imperfect as we are and need grace as we do (see Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13; Matthew 6:6).
2. Forgiveness should comfort the offender. "Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them."
When someone is broken enough to ask for forgiveness, they are in a vulnerable state and can be overwhelmed by sorrow, which is a strategy of the devil (see 2 Corinthians 2:5-11).
3. Forgiveness should bear "fruits of forgiveness" as we treat the forgiven person with even greater generosity. "I will provide for you and your little ones."
This is how God forgives us (Ephesians 2:4-6; Luke 15:22-24).