When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. – Genesis 50:15-21
“Confession is good for the soul,” …so the saying goes. Often that comment is spoken somewhat flippantly, but the truth that it conveys is actually solid advice. The brothers of Joseph demonstrated just how powerful confession can be. They had sold their brother into slavery, only to discover he had become a prince of Egypt. For seventeen years these brothers were haunted by the guilt of what they had done, and they lived in fear. Finally, after all those years, they confessed their guilt to their brother.
Joseph wept when he heard their confession. He wept for the seventeen years of fear that his brothers lived through even though he had forgiven their sin against him. Even though they had been forgiven by Joseph, even though their sin was gone, they had received no comfort from that fact for seventeen years.
Do you find yourself carrying the guilt of past sins on your heart? Do you live in fear of the things you have done against God and against others? As guilt haunts you, it can lead you to turn from God or to live afraid of him.
But God does not want you to live afraid of him. He urges you to turn from your sinful ways and repent. As you go before your heavenly Father and confess your sins to him, don’t try to hide or conceal parts of your sin. Fix your eyes on the cross of Jesus and open your soul and receive the comfort of God’s full forgiveness. Jesus Christ has taken away all of your sins—they are gone, no longer remembered by God!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, in many ways and at different times I have sinned against you. Forgive my sins for the sake of your son, Jesus, who died to take them away. Fill me with the comfort of your grace, that through Jesus all my sins are gone from your sight. Amen.