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Genesis 42:18-24 (NIV)
18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do. 21 They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.” 22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.” 23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter. 24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.
Shame and guilt have an amazing ability to haunt us. We might live in fear that something we did years ago is going to rear its ugly head. We wonder if the people we hurt are still upset with us. We believe, like Joseph’s brothers, that someday there will be a reckoning. But, in Christ, that reckoning has already come. It was the cross! Sin has been dealt with. Guilt is gone. Mercy and love are all that remains. This is why faith is often so hard. We get off completely free because of what Jesus has done, but our guilty conscience tries to keep us imprisoned. Give over to Jesus anything that is weighing you down and rest in His mercy and love.