It is summer! Schedules are off, there is more time together and is sometimes filled with fun and laughter, sometimes with conflict and hurt.  It is fairly easy to slide into toxic patterns individually and as families.

There are many families that have been living in a cycle of hurt and withdrawal, they have let unhealthy patterns take root and become part of their identity.

The Lord wants to do a miracle in your family! You cannot go back and change the past, but you can make changes now that will affect your future.  If you do not deal with bitterness right now, it will lead to resentment that opens you and your family up to the enemy to kill, steal, and destroy.

The Bible is filled up with stories about families that had issues. Genesis is one of the books that tells the story of Jacob and his family. Genesis 50:15 says, “When Joseph’s brothers had seen that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!”  

Joseph grew up as the favorite kid in the house, his brothers saw how Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children. Joseph had dreams of how he would lead his family. These dreams made his brothers hate him even more.

One day, Jacob sends Joseph to check on his brothers. He never comes back because his brothers sell him as a slave. In Egypt, Joseph goes from bring a slave to becoming the second most powerful leader after Pharaoh.

God had turned around Joseph’s situation and used him to provide for his family. Then Jacob dies and all his sons are afraid that Joseph is going to get revenge for what they did to him decades ago.

They decide to send a message to Joseph saying, “so they sent instructions to Joseph, saying, “Your father commanded us before he died, saying, ‘This is what you shall say to Joseph: “Please forgive, I beg you, the offense of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”’ And now, please forgive the offense of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.”

It is important to understand that forgiveness is not forgetting or lessoning what others did. It is releasing them from the debt they owe you.

“Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to keep many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So, he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

What will break the cycle of hurt and withdrawal in your life, in your family?

Three Ways to Reboot your Life and Family

Understand and apply the gospel  
In our hurt we often lose sight that the most offended is God Himself. We learn to forgive others because of the way Jesus forgave us.

In one of Paul’s letters, he says “Jesus came to save sinners and I am the worst.” Was he the most sinful man? No.

When Paul thinks about grace, he does not think about the grace they need, he thinks about the grace he needs. One of our biggest problems is that we think too highly of ourselves.
It is important to practice seeing yourself as sinner first, then sinned against. This does not mean that you do not have hard conversations, it is that you put everything in the right gospel focused perspective.

Learn how to give grace 
Joseph forgave his brothers. The grace we have received is something that must overflow into our relationships. Remember that many times, offering grace is a private matter between you and the Lord. Offering grace does not diminish the sin against you.

Corrie Ten Boom said, “Forgiveness is a choice you make regardless of the temperature of your heart.”

Forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation. Forgiveness is internal, reconciliation is external. Reconciliation takes time. You can forgive and still have boundaries. Forgiveness is a one-time choice that takes some time to process.

When the cross becomes bigger than what they did is when we begin to act like the sons and daughters of God that we are.

Grace is an internal decision with external fruit 
Genesis 15:21 says, “So, he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Matthew 12:34 says, “For the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart.”  We do not know what they talked about. However, we know that Joseph sought to empathize and connect with them. Joseph’s words revealed what was in his heart.

If changing the toxic patterns of a family was easy, everyone would be doing it. It starts with choosing to forgive as you have been forgiven.

Pastor Chris Williams
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