It’s important that we pay attention to the reason Joseph gave his brothers for not being grieved or angry with themselves, the same basis for the forgiveness he extended to them. It was not because of what he had witnessed in their changed behavior. Yes, Joseph was testing them to discern if they had changed, but the forgiveness he extended to them was based on something else. It was based on his understanding of what God had done (vv. 5-8). Joseph was able to see his situation from a God-centered perspective, and he realized that God used the sins of his brothers as part of His good plan.
Our willingness to forgive can at times look less like God’s and more like the world’s—that is, conditional. We might be willing to forgive if the person who wronged us seems contrite enough or at least apologizes to our satisfaction. Sometimes we want them to make restitution as well, and then we will forgive. But God calls on us to forgive in light of the gospel, in light of the forgiveness we have received in Christ. This is the forgiveness required of us and the forgiveness our hearts need to extend.
Do you need to extend forgiveness to someone? What step will you take to do that?