Joseph had experienced much pain in his life at the hands of other people: Abused by his family, unjustly convicted of rape and imprisoned, and forgotten by fair-weather friends. You’d think he’d become one of the most callous 14 forgivemen in the bible; resolving never to let anyone get to him again. That’s the natural reaction to unjust suffering at the hands of others. It’s been my reaction at times and when I read Joseph’s story I’m convicted of that weakness. Nothing bad has happened to me like that which happened to Joseph at the hands of others. When his brothers feared for their lives after their father died, Joseph reassured them even again. In Genesis 50:19-21 Joseph tells them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.”

But it’s the last phrase of this passage that struck me hard this morning. It concludes Joseph’s words to His brothers with a comment from the author. It says, “Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” When offended or wronged, even if only in my perception, I will usually clam up and get silent and try to make others pay by my obvious disapproval of their behavior. But, that’s not the way it was with Joseph.

Not Joseph! No one is said to have been more tender-hearted than he was. We read that Joseph wept often. But he never cried for himself. There’s no mention of tears when his brothers through him in the pit. There’s no mention of tears when Potiphar’s wife accused him of rape and he was convicted. There was no mention of tears when he was forgotten by fair-weather friends. Yet, the text tells us that he wept often. He wept when he recognized his brothers. He had to leave the room to contain himself. He wept when he saw his little brother Benjamin. He wept when he overheard his brothers’ regrets at sinning against him. He wept when he revealed himself to his brothers. He wept at his father’s death. He wept when his brothers asked for forgiveness. Joseph is other focused. While quietly enduring the abuse at the hands of others, he remained sensitive to the suffering of those around him. How much more like Christ could anyone be?