Joseph was on a heart hunt. Were these the same men who plotted to kill him, sold him into slavery, and had no care for their father’s grief? Were they the same hearts?
Joseph orchestrates an elaborate expedition to answer that question.
- He sells himself as a true Egyptian, with supernatural powers. How else would he know how to seat them from oldest to youngest at dinner? (43:33) How else would he know that (supposedly) they took his silver cup? (vs.15)
- He recreates the situation of one brother receiving great favor over the others. Why else would he serves Benjamin a portion five times greater than his brothers? (43:34)
- He recreates the opportunity to get rid of the favored sibling (Benjamin), who is closely bound to their father, when he requires he be kept as a slave while the others return home. (vs.17)
What he finds is that his brothers are willing to become slaves themselves, in order to spare their father greater pain. What he finds is that their hearts have changed.
Not only do they regret the decision to harm Joseph, they’re so repentant that they’re willing to suffer alongside Benjamin rather than repeat the same crime against their family. That’s what Joseph needed to see.
It’s also what we need to see in our kids. They don’t just need to feel bad for bad behavior, they need to have a heart change. And pain is a great teacher. While manipulation isn’t recommended, it’s okay – necessary even – to allow our kids to suffer the consequences of bad choices. They need to sweat a bit…or real change may never come.
If we make consequences too comfortable, or worry more about their self-esteem than their character, we’re not preparing them to understand God’s discipline…or his mercy. True & healthy self-esteem is a result of authentic accomplishment. When our kids authentically suffer and authentically repent, they experience healing. Then, they become authentically strong, moral super-heroes. And they’re set on a path to authentic success.