One of the most heartwarming stories of the Bible is the account of the reconciliation of Jacob and Esau. The twin sons of Isaac and Rebakah, were divided from each other early in life. There were hard feelings to say the least between the two brothers and Jacob took refuge with his relatives to escape Esau’s vengeance. Many years passed and God greatly blessed Jacob with a large family and rich possessions until the time came when God told him to return to his own land and family. There was only one question in his mind, what about his offense toward Esau? Unbeknownst to Jacob, God had also richly blessed Esau and despite what may await him Jacob made plans to return home.
What is obvious is that Jacob obeyed God no matter what response or action his brother Esau would take. He was willing to suffer the consequences of his wrongdoing come what may. Jacob understood that he was the offender as many years earlier he had schemed to take his brother’s birthright and the blessing of the firstborn from their father which were huge things in that culture. Here is the Genesis account of their eventual meeting:
“Now Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and there, Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maidservants. And he put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last. Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, “Who are these with you?” So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” Then the maidservants came near, they and their children, and bowed down. And Leah also came near with her children, and they bowed down. Afterward Joseph and Rachel came near, and they bowed down. Then Esau said, “What do you mean by all this all this company which I met?” And he said, “These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.”But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” (Genesis 33:1-9)
Much more could be said about the process of forgiveness but leave it to say in this account we see the great wound between the two brothers was healed because Jacob obeyed God and because he humbled himself before the one he offended. The fact is, God is the Great Forgiver and when WE forgive we are doing a Godly thing. Soon after creation, in the opening account of mankind on earth, it was God who FIRST demonstrated forgiveness as He forgave the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God demonstrated forgiveness even when the object of His forgiveness did NOT ask for it. The first place in the Bible when the actual word FORGIVE was used is the story of Joseph who was betrayed by his brothers when they sold him into slavery. God used the brothers wrong action to save the nation of Israel from extinction and He used Joseph to demonstrate His love and forgiveness.
God is interested in BOTH sides of the forgiveness equation. He want us to SEEK forgiveness and GRANT forgiveness. When we don’t WE suffer! If you have sinned against someone you need God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of the one you offended. If you have been sinned against, you need to forgive in the way Christ forgave you. When you do this you are doing a Godly thing and that’s a good thing!
This is all demonstrated in the model prayer given by our Lord Jesus Christ in the book of Matthew:
“For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:8-13)
The motivation for forgiving is in the verses that follow:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
It has been said, and it is a Bible principle, that when we don’t forgive someone who has offended us, but instead hang onto the bitter resentment and hatred for that person, it is like drinking poison and waiting for THEM to die. That is a very sad thing! So much better would it be to first realize how much WE have been forgiven in Christ and like Him grant the offender the forgiveness which they don’t deserve.
THAT is the GODLY THING!
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