What Is Meant for Evil God Turns to Good - iBelieve Truth - February 21, 2024

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“His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?  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.  So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus, he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:20-21

I am no stranger to conflict. But a conflict with a friend was fiercer than any other I had experienced before. Backbiting words and accusations sought to ruin my reputation. It was as if someone had stabbed me in the back and was twisting the knife deeper and deeper. Saddened and angered, I cried out to God, “Why is this happening to me? Why am I being treated this way?” But all I got was silence. 

One day, I ran into the friend who had mistreated me. All the anger and sadness flooded my mind and heart once again. I knew I couldn’t carry the anger around anymore. Everything in me wanted to retaliate to seek a necessary recompense for what I had suffered. But I knew that it was against what Jesus would call me to do. I knew I had to do something in response, but what? I took out my pen and a sheet of paper and I blessed her with a note of encouragement. I spoke kind words the next time I saw her. A situation that seemed as though Satan would emerge victorious turned out to give God glory instead. 

Joseph's brothers sought to harm him. His brothers’ jealousy compelled them to retaliate against Joseph. When Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph had every right to be angry. Once he became king many years later, he could have held on to that grudge. He could have made his family pay for all the horrible things they had done to him. But instead, he used his power for good instead of for evil. He chose forgiveness rather than retaliation and kindness rather than evil. 

Have you ever been hurt by people you love? Have you ever had a friend betray your trust? Have you ever had a family member betray your confidence? In these moments when our human emotions want us to act in retaliation, we, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can act in ways that show unusual kindness to the same people who don’t deserve it. God is a just God. Only he can truly pay back the evil that someone has done. As much as it feels as though it should be our responsibility to achieve justice, the reality is only God can get vengeance and pay back evil for evil. 

As Christians, we are called to act with the grace and forgiveness toward others that Christ has given to us. When we understand the reality of our sinfulness, we realize we truly don't deserve God's grace and mercy. Yet, Jesus gives his grace and mercy to everyone, regardless of how horrible their deeds are. His grace is widespread and covers a multitude of sins. God wants us to act with the same grace and mercy that Jesus gave to the people who betrayed him the most. It is by these loving acts of kindness in the face of persecution that the world will know who Jesus truly is. They will see who he is through our example. Vengeance and justice are up to God, not us. 

Joseph chose not to use his power for retaliation yet showed his brothers kindness because of the forgiveness and love that God had given him. He, in turn, helped his family, as well as the whole nation, survive a famine. In what ways can you demonstrate grace and mercy in the face of persecution?

Father, let our examples be those of grace and mercy, not of rebuke or retaliation. Let us be examples of your grace. Let us not use our power for evil, but only to do good. Let us not allow situations to harm us but rather allow the Lord to turn them for His good. Amen.    

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Tara Moore

Writer Michelle LazurekMichelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.

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Originally published Wednesday, 21 February 2024.