Monday, January 20

Am I God?

Scripture: Genesis 49-50, Psalm 8, Luke 20

Genesis 50:19–20 But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.


After Jacob died, his sons feared retribution by Joseph, and they came to him begging forgiveness in the name of their father.  Joseph’s response is threefold:

      • To reassure them: “Don’t be afraid of me.”
      • To remind them: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good—to save the lives of many people.”  And sandwiched between these:
      • A theological truth: “Am I God, that I can punish you?”

Joseph understood that judgment and punishment belongs to God.  (We are speaking of personal judgment.  Societally, there has to be a reckoning of wrongs to avoid anarchy.). Only God knows everything—we know so little.  So leave judgment and punishment with God.


I love the question: “Am I God?”  The clear answer is, “No.”  So don’t act like it!  Don’t act like judge and jury.  People make bad decisions (I am one of them) for many complicated and often irrational reasons.  Assuming that I know other’s thoughts, motives and intentions is silly.  Am I God?  No.

I’m in the middle of mediating a conflict in another church.  It would be easy for me to assign blame or motive.  But I’m not God.  I don’t know others’ hearts.  I need to remember that and move toward others with an open heart and mind, and a generous spirit.  

Today, each time I am tempted to make a judgment about someone else, I’ll remind myself that I am not God, and make generous attributions.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be less judgmental and more generous in spirit.