When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” (Gen 50:15-17a ESV)
The brothers lack of belief in Joseph's forgiveness, led to the fear of punishment and the outward symptom of sin, lying in their father’s name. How did Joseph react?
... Joseph wept ... (Gen 50:17b)
Joseph wept because he had already fully forgiven them. Yet after years of loving kindness towards them, they still lived in unbelief.
The Bibles tells us that those who really believe they have been forgiven by God, will produce the fruits of virtue, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love as listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7. If we lack these, 2 Peter 1:9 states we have forgotten we have been forgiven. In addition, Luke 7:47 states only those who believe they have been forgiven much, love much (Gal 5:14 Romans 13:8-10).
All of us have been forgiven much. Jesus weeps if we are in unbelief, knowing the fear of punishment leads to sin, just like with Joseph’s brothers.
Let God’s perfect love cast out unbelief and the fear of punishment (1 John 4:17-19). —Michael Edwards