then he commanded the steward of his house, “fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” and he did as joseph told him.

as soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. they had gone only a short distance from the city. now joseph said to his steward, “up, follow after the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘why have you repaid evil for good? is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? you have done evil in doing this.’”

when he overtook them, he spoke to them these words. they said to him, “why does my lord speak such words as these? far be it from your servants to do such a thing! behold, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of canaan. how then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord’s servants.” he said, “let it be as you say: he who is found with it shall be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent.” then each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. and he searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. and the cup was found in benjamin’s sack. then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.  [genesis 44:1-13]


after “they drank and were merry with [joseph]” (genesis 43:34) the brothers are still not let in on the secret– that they are celebrating with their long lost brother. joseph is certainly pleased to be in the presence of his family, but he is determined to test the character of the brothers once again.  when it has been discovered that the cup is found in benjamin’s sack, the brothers lament, they tear their clothes in anguish, and turn back to the city in order to face their accuser.  in their hearts, they know that they wronged their brother and father the first time, and now they have an opportunity to seek what is right, despite the potential terrible consequences. this is a far cry from where they were several years ago when they sought to kill their father’s favored son, profit from his slavery, then lie about it. 

now, these men are in agony, they must feel that God is punishing them for their sin through this egyptian ruler–and he would have every right to–and yet, the men (through judah)  are about to demonstrate how God has shown them the evil in their hearts and transformed them, causing  them to act selflessly. 


how has God grown you?  reflect on the journey that you have been on the last few years and recognize if you are more humble, more repentant, more serving, more caring, it is God who gets the glory. God changes murderers and liars into men who plead for the lives of others.  God changes the sexually immoral into those who pour out compassion for victims of sexual sin and those who are still enslaved to it.  God changes the selfish into those who pour out their lives for others in generosity and hospitality. your story is like these brother’s story–you were desperately lost, and now, each day you depend on the mercy of God for your obedience.

when you feel shame, when you feel anxious, when you feel depressed, remember your story, remember who you are in Christ, and boast in your weaknesses, and how Christ is growing you in him.  it is an appropriate response to ‘tear your clothes’ in lamentation and hatred for your sin, this is contrition–the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. [psalm 57:17]– but we should quickly repent and return to the Lord who uses what was meant for evil for our good.  don’t forget the faithfulness of God–don’t forget the one who has called you, is changing you and is growing your love for Christ. 


i lift up my eyes to the hills.

    from where does my help come?

my help comes from the Lord,

    who made heaven and earth.

he will not let your foot be moved;

    he who keeps you will not slumber.

behold, he who keeps israel

    will neither slumber nor sleep.

the Lord is your keeper;

    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

the sun shall not strike you by day,

    nor the moon by night.

the Lord will keep you from all evil;

    he will keep your life.

the Lord will keep

    your going out and your coming in

    from this time forth and forevermore. [psalm 121]