Guilt causes us to do and say strange things. I remember reading about a letter that actually received at the IRS. “Dear Sir, “I haven’t been able to sleep because when I filled out my tax return I deliberately misrepresented my income. I am enclosing a check for $500. Then came the closing line, “If I still can’t sleep after this, I’ll send you the rest.” That’s a partial response to unresolved guilt!
In our study in the life of Joseph we noticed that when his brothers came to the Prime Minister’s house, they spent time arranging the gift that they’d brought to hopefully appease him.
“Reuben, do you think the almonds should be first, or the pistachio nuts next to the honey and balm? They were counting on this gift as their hope for acceptance.
In a similar way, guilt causes us to fear God’s love. When you’re guilty, God’s undeserved favor makes you feel uneasy. People will often say things like, “what’s the catch? It sounds too good to be true.” “Oh you don’t know what I’ve done, God can’t love me.” “I have a lot of work to do before God would ever accept me.” So what do they do? They try to pay their own way in an attempt to appease God.
That is typical of sinful man’s attempt to approach a holy God with their own works. People are nervous about sin and fear God, so they think, “well maybe if I give money at church God will accept me. Maybe I’ll do some things to help… so we bring our almonds and pistachio nuts to soothe our guilty consciences and hope God will accept us.”
You see we must have a balanced biblical view of God. There is good reason for us to have fear approaching God because we are all in fact guilty. Romans 3:23 tells us that we are all sinners and have fallen short. Romans 6:23 tells us that the consequences of that sin is eternal separation from God in Hell. But wait - here comes the GOOD NEWS - the second half of that verse says, “The gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus.” There are no preconditions. No work requirements, no “but first commands.” He invites us to come as we are, and He will do the rest. When we stand before the throne of God, the only thing He will be interested in is our relationship to His Son, Jesus Christ.
Do you know Him? He stands ready to shower His abundant grace on the guilty. Joseph lavished his undeserving brothers with a great feast. He had learned to let go of their mistreatment and was determined to forgive and forget. Joseph was great because of his faith in God which was displayed in his attitude and actions toward both his situation and others. Is there someone you need to show more grace to today.
Pastor Brian Richard