Repentance Through Kindness

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 7
Genesis 43:25-44:325And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon: for they heard that they should eat bread there. 26And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth. 27And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive? 28And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance. 29And he lifted up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother's son, and said, Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son. 30And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there. 31And he washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread. 32And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians. 33And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth: and the men marvelled one at another. 34And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin's mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him. 1And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men's sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man's money in his sack's mouth. 2And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack's mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken. 3As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses. (Genesis 43:25‑44:3)
Perhaps you are wondering how Joseph’s brothers were going to be brought to repentance. It was through Joseph’s kindness. They were his enemies, who once hated him, but he returned good for their evil and provided water for them to wash their tired feet, food for their animals, as well as a good dinner for them in his own house. Surely this reminds us of what God has provided for His enemies, even salvation full and free. If you are unsaved, dear reader, may the good­ness of God lead you to repentance (Romans 2:44Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)), just as Joseph’s kindness led his brothers to confess their sin.
Receiving His Blessings
While dinner was being prepared, Joseph’s brothers were getting ready to give their present to him, a little balm, a little honey, and other things. Joseph did not even mention what they gave him, but instead he asked after their welfare. God does not need any­thing from the sinner. He says, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:66But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)). That is like the sinner’s “little present” to God, and it is utterly useless to Him; in fact, it is hateful to Him. But He is interested in your wel­fare, dear sinner, and like Joseph, He has prepared everything for you and asks you to sit down and thank Him for it. There was, however, one great barrier to the full enjoyment of the feast. They had made obeisance, they had given their present, but they had not confessed their sin, and though Joseph’s heart yearned and wept over them, he could not make himself known until they fully owned their guilt.
When they had eaten the wonderful dinner which Joseph provided, the steward filled their sacks with as much corn as they could carry, and then put their money in the top of them. In Benjamin’s sack he also put Joseph’s silver cup. What beautiful lessons we can learn from all this. God delights to give us all we can carry! His supply is unlimited, but our capacity is limited — so very small at times, and we do not have room to receive all His blessings (Malachi 3:1010Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10)). Then what a sweet thought in the cup — Joseph’s silver cup. Silver speaks of redemption, and so on the ground of redemption, even the youngest of God’s children has his place at the Lord’s table, partaking of the cup of blessing.
The Goodness of God
But they did not know all that was in their sacks, nor about the cup being there. They were not in a state to enter into the blessing which was in Joseph’s heart for them, and that is why we are told about the strange way in which they were brought back. There is an­other thing we might mention here — purpose is always before responsibility in the Bible. God tells of His plans for blessing us before there is any mention of how we should act in the place where His grace put us. Some of our young readers might wonder why this is. It is because if we got what we deserved, it would be eternal judgment, but because of God’s purpose and the work of His Son which has enabled Him to carry out His purposes, we get the blessing from His hand instead of judgment. Oh that we realized more of the goodness of the heart of God! If we did, we would feel more of the constraint of His love.
Further Meditation
1. How were Joseph’s brothers brought to repentance?
2. Having a sense of the Lord’s love to us has a tremendous impact on our lives. How did Naomi’s sense of the Lord’s love change throughout the book of Ruth? How did the Lord create that change?
3. You will no doubt enjoy the short booklet God’s Unchanging Love by F. C. Blount.