And Joseph said unto them the third day, “This do, and live; for I fear God: ‘If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses: but bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die.” And they did so. And they said one to another, “We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.”
And Reuben answered them, saying, “Spake I not unto you, saying, ‘Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? Therefore, behold, also his blood is required.” And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter. And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes. Genesis 42:18-24
Joseph, betrayed by his brothers many years before this event, and sold into slavery was now a ruler in the land to which he had been sold for twenty pieces of silver. It was to Joseph the brothers had to see in order to get the food and grain they needed in Canaan, which was suffering from the famine which was affecting all the world.
I deal with personal guilt at times. I have guilt in my thoughts and my heart due to some deed I have done to someone in the past, recent, and sometimes over a thing, or thought that just comes to my mind. It seems that we have been told over the past few years that guilt is a bad thing, and I totally disagree. Guilt is a good thing if it leads us to repentance and renewing.
It is Reuben who speaks of the deed the brothers did to Joseph years before; and keep in mind they do not recognize the brother they had betrayed and sold. Do you see the guilt they are feeling. As well that they should, and suffered from it, probably for all those years keeping the secret from their father Jacob.
Guilt is bad only if you allow it to fester, and make you cold and hard as steel, and never make right the wrong you have done. Sometimes, just confessing it to God, and repenting of the thing or deed is all you can do and that will release you from the debt you owe. I say “debt” because it is a debt or a trespass against God or someone else that needs to be paid.
Joseph was in the process of testing his brothers to see if they were genuinely sorrowful for the wrong they had did. I am certain that when he saw them that he desired to run up to them, revealing who he was, and to show them the fulfilling of his dreams he had shared with them years before as a boy in Canaan. But he was wiser than that.
Guilt is a helper or it can be a crippler. A helper to show us our wrong and lead us to repentance. A crippler that causes the heart to grow stone, steel hard, and cold if we do not cry for forgiveness.
We have sinned against God. In His love He gave us His Son who was despised and rejected by His brethren, by the world even, and was sold for 30 pieces of silver, a guiltless, sinless man, condemned to die on the cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb, and He came out being raised to life He forever lives. Bring all you guilt and condemnation to Him, praying, confessing your sins, believing Him for full redemption and forgiveness. He will hear you and He will save.