I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to grow and to learn and to teach in seminary each morning.
Today was extra special.
Today's lesson was a discussion of Genesis 42-45... the story of Joseph and his brothers... a story of forgiveness.
I started down my lesson plan but soon through that out the window. I may have been teaching the class, but the Spirit was teaching me.
These chapters really should be titled "Pause and Think: How Do I Treat People Who Wrong Me?"
Joseph amazes me! After all, his brothers treated him poorly. They were jealous of his station in their father's heart. They were jealous of his obedience. They sold him for mere change because of greed. They wanted their cake and they wanted to eat it too. Once he was sold into servitude he life didn't improve right away. He was a slave and then thrown into jail when his employer's wife lied about him because she was angry that he wouldn't betray his employer. After hanging out in prison for many years, he was finally set free and even rewarded as the 2nd in command in Pharaoh's kingdom. He is put in charge of saving grain because he interpreted the Pharaoh's dream. Because he saved the grain he saved the people from all the land from starvation during a famine. He even saved his family as they limped into town asking to buy some of the grain.
Now, at this point Joseph could have turned them down... given them a taste of their own medicine. but he doesn't. (He is my hero). He is cautious and wants to truly access the condition of their hearts. He allows them to believe that they don't know him. Maybe they looked at him and wondered why he looked familiar. However, they were blinded by their own guilt. They couldn't believe that Joseph could still be alive, let alone the 2nd in command in Egypt. They believed that he only spoke Egyptian and couldn't believe that he would be able to speak Hebrew.
After he questions them and learns that his father and a younger brother still live and that they seem to have great remorse for their treatment of him in the past, he allows them to buy the grain. Not only does he sell them the grain, but he give them back their money. He does require some sacrifice on their part and keeps one of the brothers as collateral for the return of the younger brother.
Joseph sees the evidence that his brothers' hearts have changed, but he wants to be sure of their intent when they return with Benjamin. He throws a party and gives Benjamin more then the brothers at the party. He then tests his brothers to see if they will throw Benjamin under the bus by sending them off with more grain and placing a valuable cup in Benjamin's bag. When Benjamin is discovered with the loot, his older brothers offer to sacrifice themselves rather than breaking the heart of their father. In addition, they see Benjamin as an innocent party in the crime. They can't believe that he could have done this wrong.
Joseph rejoices. His brothers' hearts have truly changed. The test was for their sake, not for revenge for the wrongs they had inflicted upon Joseph. He finally steps into their view, speaking to them in their own language. They too rejoice and at long last the family is reunited.
As I taught this story the parallels between Joseph and the Savior become more vivid in my mind. It's not that I've never heard of these principles before. I have. I've even taught them. I've practiced them in my own heart and in my own repentance process. I just was blessed with a clear picture this morning that brought peace to my soul and answered the prayers of my heart... even the prayers I had lifted up not an hour before.
The Savior has ever reason to question our motive and to refuse to offer assistance. After all, his brothers and sisters treat him poorly and treat His commandments with disrespect and dishonor. Some are even jealous of His station in the Father's kingdom. He is often sold for mere change because of greed... sold for greed.. sold for pride... sold for sin. Many of His brothers and sisters believe they should be able to sin without the consequences that are attached to that choice. He lives in the service of those that miss treat him. He was even thrown into prison because someone falsely accused Him of misdeeds. He has been awarded for His obedience and service the #2 potion in His Father's kingdom. He serves as the Bread of Life and saves those who approach him and are willing to pay a small amount for the blessings they are given. In return He gives them not only what they need and what they ask for, but He increases the blessings. He saves lives.
He could turns us all down.... instead He is cautious and wants to truly access the condition of our hearts. He often don't recognise Him because we are not looking for Him... like His friends that missed that they walked from one town to the next with their close friend because they were not looking for him. He allows us to believe that we don't know him. We are blinded by our own guilt. It is so hard to believe that He lives and cares about us.
I don't believe the tests are meant to be mean. I think they are to truly assess the depth of our change of heart. As our hearts are truly changed He comes into view as our guilt melts away.
I also learned that Forgiveness is His job... I mean, only God can truly erase the wrongs of the world. The forgiveness that we are required to give is to trust in him. To trust that He can do his job. to trust that His punishments and rewards are just and that we are not in charge of the hearts of men.
I also learned that it is not a lack of forgiveness when I am cautious around those that have hurt me deeply. I trust in God. I also know that God expect me to be smart and to keep my heart and family safe.
Then we are able to truly rejoice. The test is for my sake, not for revenge for the wrongs that may have been inflicted upon my or by me. I know that Christ steps into view. He speaks to our hearts and to our souls. I can now imagine that the reunion will be great!
Today I am grateful for seminary.... and the lessons I learn there.