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  • Writer's pictureW. Austin Gardner

are you part of the solution or the problem

Do not let anyone know what someone said about you or did to you.

To ensure privacy, Joseph cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” (Gen. 45:1). He waited to reveal his identity until there was no one in the room except his brothers. Even the interpreter, who had no idea Joseph could speak Hebrew, was, to his surprise, told to leave.

But why? Why did Joseph make everyone else leave? Because he did not want a single person in Egypt to know what his brothers had done to him twenty-two years before. He had a plan: namely, to persuade them to bring their father, Jacob, to Egypt. He wanted his entire family there with him. No one in Egypt needed to know what they had done.

Joseph was a hero in Egypt. The people were in awe of him. By interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams he had saved the nation. He knew that if the word leaked out that his brothers had actually kidnapped him and sold him to Ishmaelites, the Egyptians would hate his brothers. Instead, Joseph wanted them to be heroes in Egypt as he was, and the only way to cause that to happen was to ensure that absolutely nobody in Egypt would ever discover their wickedness. So he did not allow anyone to eavesdrop on this historic conversation as he revealed his identity to those startled, frightened men. Joseph not only did not let anybody know what they had done; he ensured that they could not know. That is one of the proofs that one has totally forgiven.

This is precisely how you and I are forgiven: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Ps. 103:12). Our sins are “wiped out” (Acts 3:19). It is as though our sins don’t exist anymore—they are gone, gone, gone, gone! Insofar as our standing and security with God are concerned, they will never be held against us. Back in the hills of Kentucky, we used to sing a chorus about our sins being buried in God’s sea of forgetfulness. This is based on Micah 7:19: “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”

God will not reveal what He knows. Picture, if you will, a giant screen such as the ones many churches use for projecting the words to worship songs. Imagine your sins listed on that screen for people to see. You would look at the list and be forced to admit, “Yes—that’s true. But I thought I was forgiven and that nobody would know!” Imagine the sense of betrayal you would feel if God disclosed to everyone else what He knows about you!

There are a lot of things God knows about me that I wouldn’t want anyone else to know. He has enough on me to bury me! But you will never know any of it, because God won’t tell.

R. T. Kendall, Total Forgiveness: When Everything in You Wants to Hold a Grudge, Point a Finger, and Remember the Pain - God Wants You to Lay It All aside (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2010).

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