Read Genesis 42:1-24
Living With Guilt
Your stomach twisted in knots. Night sweats. Tears always at the ready. Continual worry, paranoia, fear. Guilt is one of the worst feelings in the world.
These men had sold Joseph, their brother, into slavery. And now, many years later, they felt that their sin had caught up to them. How often had they discussed their treachery through the years? How many times had they rehearsed the events of that day as they watched their father Jacob mourn the son he thought had been killed?
Joseph struck a deal with them (though they did not know that he was Joseph)—Simeon stays here, but the rest of you go back home and bring the youngest brother back with you. They knew that this would grieve their father more, as only Joseph and Benjamin had been borne by Rachel. They knew it would be difficult for Jacob to let Benjamin out of his sight.
They saw this as recompense for their evil deed many years before. “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us” (Genesis 42:21). Surely this was not the only time they had heard Joseph’s pleas echoing in their memories.
We have all done things in our past that we regret, but we must not allow those things to dampen our future in Christ. God will forgive our sins if we confess and repent, and He will use us in His service if we are willing. Sometimes, though, it is difficult to forgive ourselves. We must remind ourselves of how God forgives and accept His love and grace and mercy.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). We have trouble accepting that fact, but we must get to a point that we can move on from our sin and live the abundant life that Christ promises. We have to forget our past and focus on our future, just as Paul did: “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).