guilt

Why would anyone hesitate?

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself,” (John 12:32,33).

At the climax of the saga of Joseph and his brothers, the moment comes when he can no longer restrain himself. Weeping aloud, Joseph banishes his Egyptian attendants, and faces his estranged brothers. Speaking for the first time in their Hebrew language, he makes this breathless declaration:

“I am Joseph. Does my father still live?”

Did they cry out with joy and hug his neck? Did a passionate family reunion ensue?

Well, not exactly.

Joseph’s next words are telling:

“Please come near me” (implying that they had shrunk back in fear), and the Bible records, “so they came near.” Then Joseph repeats the same terrifying words: “I am Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt” (Genesis 45:3,4).

Why their terror? The answer is that he is now very powerful and remembers the unworthy things they did to him. Having a relative who is also in a position of great power is good news only if you earlier had refrained from kidnapping and selling him into slavery!

It’s funny you know, people seem to hide from God all the time. Adam and Eve hid in the Garden (Genesis 3:9). Saul hid in the baggage (1 Samuel 10:22). Jonah fled, or at least attempted to flee, to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3).

Now does that say more about God, or about us, when we flee the presence of the Almighty? It seems our guilt is speaking out loud!

Can I say something in this self-indulged, politically correct world?

Guilt is good.

People should feel guilt.

I can’t see how we will ever change until we acknowledge that what we are currently doing is wrong.

Why change if we’ve done no wrong?

So next time you sense you’re shrinking from the presence of God, ask yourself; am I feeling guilty? And should that tell me something?

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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