When someone wrongs us, and they know it and you know it, the temptation is to lord it over them. The flesh seeks power in a relationship, to be the one on top. However, Jesus said that we are to seek the other’s good, to humble ourselves, to be the last, and to think more highly of the other person- in all our relationships.
If anyone had a reason to lord it over anyone, it was Joseph. The brothers could hardly believe the turn of events when they found Joseph in Egypt as second-in-command over the entire nation. Joseph loved his brothers and held no account against them for their plot to kill Joseph and sell him into slavery.
This attitude of Joseph’s was born of a Godly spirit, certainly. In the flesh we would hold all sorts of grudges against a person, but in the LORD Joseph had developed a forgiving and a truly loving spirit. He forgave the brothers’ sins against him. Overjoyed, the brothers held their peace. When their father Jacob died, however, the brothers began to worry again.
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” (Genesis 50:15)
It was not so.
But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? (Genesis 50:19). Joseph went on,
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:20-21)
Oh, how often we put ourselves in the place of God! We withhold forgiveness, we lord it over people, we pridefully forget we are sinners too! We put ourselves in the place of God. At least, I do sometimes!
Matthew Henry Commentary explains:
Judging of Joseph from the general temper of human nature, they thought he would now avenge himself on those who hated and injured him without cause. Not being able to resist, or to flee away, they attempted to soften him by humbling themselves. They pleaded with him as the servants of Jacob’s God. Joseph was much affected at seeing this complete fulfillment of his dreams. He directs them not to fear him, but to fear God; to humble themselves before the Lord, and to seek the Divine forgiveness. He assures them of his own kindness to them. See what an excellent spirit Joseph was of, and learn of him to render good for evil. He comforted them, and, to banish all their fears, he spake kindly to them. Broken spirits must be bound up and encouraged. Those we love and forgive, we must not only do well for, but speak kindly to.
Lording it over a person puts ourselves in the place of God. Forgiving those who transgressed against us includes a full spirit of gentleness. How much more would a kind word to those who sinned against us help bind a broken spirit.
Not that we lord it over your faith, but we are fellow workers with you for your joy, because it is by faith that you stand firm. (2 Corinthians 1:24)
Seek others’ joy. Lord, help me not give in to temptation to lord it over, but to fully forgive, seek others’ joy, and bind a broken spirit with a kind word.