Justice and Revenge2
As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”
- Genesis 42:7
What would you do if you had the person who had hurt you most completely in your power? That’s where Joseph found himself in today’s passage.
Revenge. Punishment. Justice. These men bowing before Joseph had sold him into slavery, faked his death, and now were at his mercy.
He could have ordered them arrested and sold into slavery. That was within his power. And that, perhaps, would have been just … but just barely. Their action toward him was cruel. Would a just reprisal echo their cruelty? Who would Joseph become if he imitated their behavior?
Justice doesn’t have to come at the expense of your soul.
Joseph could have denied their request for help. Surely, that would have been reasonable. Healthy boundaries. What would be the implications of letting them back into his life? What would be the implications of letting them return to Canaan empty-handed?
Joseph was in a difficult situation. His choices would shape the destiny of his family for generations. And his emotions raged throughout all of the episodes we’ll read about this week.
Take some time today to reflect on justice, mercy, and revenge. What is your heart’s default posture in situations where you have the option to seek vengeance? What can the Lord teach you about yourself in all of this?