Emotional Baggage – Part 3

In our third lesson on baggage we deal with “I owe You”. This is when you know you have done something to someone and they are now carrying around some baggage because of you. When this happens we usually begin to feel guilty, shameful, and at fault. The longer we carry the burden of hurting someone around the more we have to avoid this person, justify our actions to ourselves and others, and try to forget what we done.

People try to deal with this baggage in different ways. In Genesis Joseph’s brothers lie to their dad by leading him to believe Joseph is dead. They also sold their brother into slavery. Just imagine the holidays, birthdays, and all the times that dad brought up Joseph. No doubt they carried around a lot of baggage. When they go to buy food from Joseph the first time he throws them in prison for 3 days. Then he tells them that 9 of the 10 brothers can go home but one must stay. What is the first thing to happen? Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble. Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?” Reuben asked. “But you wouldn’t listen. And now we have to answer for his blood!” (Gen 42:21-22 NLT) Wow 10 or more years later they are still feeling guilty about Joseph. That is how baggage works. You carry it around and it is ever present on your mind.

When the family ran out of food they had to return with Benjamin. But as they left Joseph sends his police force to stop them and accuses them of stealing his silver cup. They search the bags and the cup is found in Benjamin’s bag. How do they explain this event? Judah answered, “Oh, my lord, what can we say to you? How can we explain this? How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing us for our sins. My lord, we have all returned to be your slaves– all of us, not just our brother who had your cup in his sack.” (Gen 44:16 NLT) What sins? Selling Joseph. How many times in life do you think they were reminded of their sin.

Joseph knows that they owe him but he forgives them in chapter 45. But they still feel the guilt and shame. When Jacob (dad) dies they are afraid that Joseph will no longer be so forvging. So they finally decide that they need to let go of their baggage and come clean and pay their debt. Well maybe not because in Genesis 50:15-21 they try to manipulate Joseph into forgiving them by saying it was their dad’s dying wish. Then they come and offer to be his slaves. Lucky for them Joseph hadn’t been carrying around his baggage and reaffirms his forgiveness.

The brothers did one thing well and one thing terrible as they try to get rid of the “I owe You” baggage. We don’t need to do what the brothers tried to do by committing another sin to solve the other. They lied and tried to manipulate forgiveness. This wouldn’t have gotten rid of their baggage it would have just added another pair of pants to an over stuffed bag. But so many times this is our response. To get rid of our debt we need to come clean and confess our fault and do whatever we can to make amends. They offered to become slaves in order to pay off their debt. That was good. They basically tell Joseph we sold you into slavery you can now make us slaves. This is basically I owe you $10 so I am willing to give you $10.  When we hurt someone we need to repent and make amends. If it can be paid back then do it. If it isn’t tangible then ask them how you can make it up. If they refuse to forgive then do what you can to redeem your sin and let it go and know that you did all you could and that God no longer hold you accountable for your debt.

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