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There's Something About Joseph
by Tom Goodman
December 16, 2015

In most manger scenes Joseph is just a guy in the background behind Mary and the shepherds and wise men.  But we men need to pay attention to that guy in the background of our manger scenes.  In Matthew 1:18-25, we find three qualities from Joseph's life that should be imitated.

First: Be a righteous man.  Though Joseph didn't have the whole story when he first discovered Mary was pregnant, he knew he wasn't the father.  The only conclusion he could draw at this point was that his fiancĂ© had been unfaithful to him.  So he decided to break off the engagement.  It's notable that the Bible doesn't say, "Joseph, being a jealous man, decided to divorce her" or "Joseph, being a humiliated man, decided to divorce her" but "Joseph, being a righteous man, decided to divorce her."  (Engagement was a serious matter in New Testament times, so breaking the engagement was tantamount to divorce.)  Joseph did not shrug his shoulders at what at first appeared to be ungodly choices in Mary's life.  His walk with God mattered to him -- and her walk with God mattered to him, too.  Like Joseph, we men need to develop our own spiritual self-discipline in all areas, and then let those around us feel the weight of our influence.

Second: Be a merciful man.  Matthew 1:19 says, "Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly."  His plan to break the engagement was evidence of his righteousness; his plan to break the engagement privately was evidence of his mercy.  It's a rare thing to see both character and compassion in the same life today.  On the one hand, we have Christians who uphold righteousness but in doing so act very unmercifully.  On the other hand, we have Christians who think they are being merciful because they water down God's commands to be righteous.  Joseph was both righteous and merciful, and it's a characteristic for Christian men to imitate.

Third: Be an obedient man.  The angel commanded Joseph to proceed with his planned marriage to Mary.  And "Joseph did as the Lord's angel had commanded him" (Matthew 1:24).  It's notable that the angel said, "Don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife."  He knew that obeying God on this matter would deeply complicate his life, but he said yes.  It's still true that God calls on us men to do hard things.  It's in those times we have to decide what God's leadership really means to us.

If you're looking for something to say when your family gathers this Christmas, read Matthew 1:18-25 to the group, then read this little post from me, and then pray that the men of your clan rise up to the honorable example of Joseph.

Merry Christmas!


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