Has it ever occurred to you that we are so used to mediocrity that we get shocked when excellence is on display? We have been either fed or fed ourselves with putrid broth for so long that when the delicious broth is served, we think it is out on a limb.
This is the same spirit in governance. We dance to ridiculous tunes, sing along gibberish and follow the lackadaisical rhythm in praise of what our politicians have done when they were supposed to do it. It is as if we have struck upon a vein of gold in the bedrock of dross.
Now, consider Genesis 50:15-17 (NIV).
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
Joseph brothers’ lives were punctuated with bouts of rowdiness and ungodliness. And from the scriptures, it emerges that they were so used to revenge and unfriendliness to the extent that they never believed Joseph had forgiven them. We usually give what we have. We cannot provide forgiveness if our lives are marred with acts of anger and revenge. Unconsciously, we tend to expect the same treatment we have dished to others – even so, lousy treatment. If we treated our fellow humans unfairly, we somehow hope for a similar generous return.
Joseph had forgiven them a long time ago and moved to treat them favourably. There was no good reason to doubt him. A person looking at the life of Joseph from teenagehood would quickly notice a consistent godly character. Joseph brothers ought to have known him well. How could an Egyptian trust Joseph too much to allow him to play second fiddle in the kingdom when his flesh and blood questioned his forgiveness? It is pretty mindboggling.
That is how we behave. We let the past mistakes grip us so tightly that we lose our lives traction. Our lives are dictated by fear. We do not expect love from anyone presumably because there is no fountain of love in us. We live fearing someone is on our trail probably because we have trailed others too.
Occasionally we encounter someone who thaws our icy hearts, but we fail to notice since all our lives have been served with gloom. We have been betrayed countless times that we live expecting the next betrayal. Mediocrity gives birth to mediocre expectations.
As I read the story of Joseph and his brothers, it dawned on me that good people still exist. The world is not in short supply of honest people. However, my capacity to receive honesty has been severely damaged by the dishonest past.
We need to climb higher than Joseph’s brothers. It is done by trusting that God has completely forgiven our sins. Then we should learn to give others the benefit of doubt; not everyone is out to harm us. We cannot always live in fear.