Killing My Resentments

Killing My Resentments

Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. Genesis 42:7

Over the years, I’ve had to provide medical care for some patients whom I frankly don’t like and for whom I don’t want to provide care. In the Emergency Room, I’ve had to take care of those who’ve killed others in drunk driving accidents. In jail, I must occasionally care for those who’re accused of sex crimes against children. My job though, is to provide standard of medical care to everyone, whether I like them or not. Can you imagine if I doled out medical care according to how much I liked or disliked my patients, according to who’s offended me? I’m in charge here. You’re under my power now. You have insulted me, and you’re going to suffer because I don’t like you. What if I used my power and authority in those situations to take revenge for any wrong that I’ve ever perceived? What would that do my own soul? It would make me a monster who should never be allowed to practice medicine. In taking revenge for past wrongs, I’d become every bit as evil as the thing I claimed to hate. Indulging in my resentments would be deadly to my own soul.

Joseph discovered this. In today’s passage, Joseph finally gained authority over the very brothers who’d once sold him as a slave. Enslaved in Egypt, Joseph rose to power by saving Egypt from famine. It was this same famine that drove Joseph’s bothers to Egypt to buy grain. There, they came before Joseph, whom they didn’t recognize. Joseph used this opportunity to take revenge. He accused his brothers of spying and incarcerated them, threatening them with death. He’d dreamed of this day for years, hungering for revenge, and now, he enjoyed it. Still, he was tortured by his resentments. The story goes on for several chapters, describing how Joseph alternately tormented his brothers, showed them kindness, and then wept in agony. Joseph’s resentments, though justified, tore him in two.

This is the nature of my resentments. I may have been wronged. I may be justified in harboring anger and holding on to old debts. Still, clinging to my resentments is a poison that is toxic to my own soul. If I want to be free of the hurts of the past and if I desire to know life, joy, and peace, then daily, I must choose to let go of my resentments. This may be something I have to do every day. Resentments, like any other struggle, don’t go away easily. Daily though, I must be killing my resentments, or else they will be killing me.

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