Meditations on the Twelve Steps

Recovery: It's a God Thing
Friday September 19, 2014

by Teresa McBean

Scripture Reading for today: 2 Kings 10 and 11; Ezekiel 13

After burying Jacob, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to his father’s burial. But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became fearful. “Now Joseph will show his anger and pay us back for all the wrong we did to him,” they said.

So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you – for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. Genesis 50:14-17 NLT

This is speculation, but I want to suggest one possible reason Joseph “broke down and wept.”

Those brothers shamelessly invoked the name of their dead father as a shield against Joseph’s anger. That’s a cheap shot. We take cheap shots in the amends process when we, motivated by fear, try to manipulate our “offended” to have pity on us.

Forgiveness is not about an expression of pity. It’s about getting it. It’s about understanding the nature of the offense; it was huge. It’s about knowing that the offender had only his or her interests at heart and was both willing and able to hurt someone else in the process.

When we try to elicit a pitying declaration of forgiveness, we’re not only taking a cheap shot, we’re underestimating the power of God to work in and through another person. These goofballs should have given their brother a chance to forgive them straight up. All would have been blessed in the process.

“Joseph broke down and wept.”

An effective step nine causes no harm. These brothers failed to understand this concept. How about you? Do you get it?