Have you ever felt pretty good about yourself? I Remember being promoted to Chief in the Navy. I was 27, a very young chief. I was feeling pretty good about myself. When I graduated, summa cum laud, from College. I was pretty self satisfied. When I walked across the stage to receive my Master’s in Theology, I felt as smug and confident as anyone.

That’s the way Jospeh’s brothers were feeling when they left Egypt in Genesis 44. They had faced the trial of their return. Their worries about their money being returned to them were settled. They had vindicated themselves before the greatest man in Egypt. They had received special treatment from him. They had a meal with him and was honored by him. They were allowed to purchase the grain they needed for their families. Simeon was returned to them and as a whole family, all eleven of them, were on their way home. They had vindicated themselves before Pharaoh’s official and they were about to vindicate themselves before their father as they return with food, Simeon, and Benjamin. All this, and they did it all without being found out with regards to their sin against Joseph 20 years earlier. Yes, I’m sure they felt they had made a great escape and were feeling pretty smug and self satisfied.

But then, Joseph’s guard catches up with them and accuses them of stealing. You can see the smugness in their reply, “why do you speak such words against us. Far be it from your servants to do such a thing.” Earlier when Joseph had accused them of being spies they assured him that they were “honest” men. Yet, for over 20 years they had lived the lie of Joseph’s death before their Father and other family members.

The smugness is soon gone when the guard finds the cup in Benjamin’s bag. Verse 13 tells us that “they tore their clothes.” They had once tore Joseph’s clothes and smeared blood on them to promote their lie. But now they tear their own clothes.  As tearing their clothes might expose them physically, it is a visual of the pain of being exposed spiritually. It hurts, humbles, and shames us! Ask Eliot Spitzer.

But the scabs must be pulled off before there can be a true healing.  Max Lucado writes, “Confession is telling God you did the thing he saw you do. He doesn’t need to hear it as much as you need to say it. Whether it’s too small to be mentioned or too big to be forgiven isn’t yours to decide. Your task is to be honest.”