September 23, 2014

Confrontation: Unsettling Kindness

Genesis 43:15-34

Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness … not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
—Romans 2:4


What an amazing cascade of kindnesses! Despite their anxieties about being invited to the ruler’s home for a meal at noon and fearing the worst, the brothers are inundated with hospitality! The steward assures them that he received their silver, and he suggests that God himself put treasure in their sacks. Then Simeon is released to them. The brothers also receive water to wash their feet and fodder for their animals.

Then, when Joseph comes home, he speaks kindly to them instead of harshly! Joseph asks about their father, Jacob, and pronounces God’s blessing on Benjamin. Then he provides a lavish feast, with Benjamin’s portions “five times as much as anyone else’s.” The brothers’ apprehension begins to ease. But why all this kindness?

All this bounty from Joseph is a picture of God’s grace pouring out of his heart toward his guilty brothers. Indeed, at the sight of Benjamin, Joseph has to excuse himself and find a place to weep privately.

Why so many kindnesses? With love that can come only from God, Joseph showers kindnesses to thaw his brothers’ hard hearts and lead them to the point where they can finally break their guilty silence and confess their wrongdoing.

But will they come clean? Will we come clean?

O God, you give us rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. You bless us and fill our hearts with joy. May your kindnesses tenderize us toward repentance. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Kenneth D. Koeman

Rev. Ken Koeman is a pastor at Bellevue, Washington, Christian Reformed Church. He has written Today devotions in past years and has also authored numerous articles for The Banner, the magazine of the Christian Reformed Church. Ken and his wife, Kay, live in Bellevue and have two children and five grandchildren.

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