Friday, November 18, 2011

Real Repentance

I came across a story of true repentance yesterday. True repentence requires a complete change in attitude. Far too often in today's society we get what is best described as faux repentence or maybe even show repentence. The person doing the repenting isn't really sorry but they are saying sorry in order to assuage the offended party's feelings as well as save public face. This form of non-apology apology has become so common that it even has it's own Wikipedia entry.

The story that I came across happened many thousands of years ago and is recorded in the book of Genesis. Joseph was the younger brother that could really get under the skin of his siblings. He was obviously dad's favorite, he didn't have to do the same hard work that his brothers did and he was even a tattle-tale. So the brothers conspired to kill Joseph. But the oldest brother, Ruben, stepped in and prevented them from killing Joseph. So they threw him into a pit.
But when Ruben left the brother that I am guessing was the ringleader spoke up:
Then Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers listened to him.
Between his role here and how he treated his daughter-in-law, it sounds like Judah wasn't a real honorable guy. I don't know for sure but I would suspect that he was one of the main voices in the whole plot against Joseph. So Joseph eventually is sold as a slave in Egypt and through a series of events works his way up to being second in command of all of Egypt. When there is a famine in the land Joseph's brothers have to come and buy grain from him. They have no idea that the man they are talking to is Joseph.

Then the brothers run into some serious trouble in their second encounter with Joseph. Benjamin, now the youngest brother, is accused of stealing from Joseph. When Joseph demands that Benjamin become his slave Judah now steps in:
"For I your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, 'If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.' Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father."
Judah is willing to substitute his own life to save Benjamin's life. That is a complete 180ยบ turn from how Judah treated Joseph. His attitude changed. He didn't just say, "Well I'm sorry that Benjamin being in possession of your silver cup offended you."

It was this attitude change that overwhelmed Joseph and he could no longer hide his identity from his brothers. Joseph completely forgave them. And that is the key to forgiveness. When we seek true forgiveness we need to show true repentance and not this non-apology apology style of repentance. Yes, Judah and the brothers still had to face their father and explain to him how Joseph ended up in Egypt. But I am sure that it was much easier to do having received full and complete forgiveness from Joseph.

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