Character of Christmas: Joseph

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Joseph was Mary’s counterpart in this mysterious birth. A simple carpenter running a good trade, Joseph was a good man with a good name. Everything within him would want to protect his reputation and his business. What seems to stick out most to me about this man and his character is his value of honor. Read his story below.

18 This is how Jesus Christ was born. A young woman named Mary was engaged to Joseph from King David’s family. But before they were married, she learned that she was going to have a baby by God’s Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph was a good man and did not want to embarrass Mary in front of everyone. So he decided to quietly call off the wedding.

20 While Joseph was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. 21 Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 So the Lord’s promise came true, just as the prophet had said, 23 “A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel,” which means “God is with us.”

24 After Joseph woke up, he and Mary were soon married, just as the Lord’s angel had told him to do. 25 But they did not sleep together before her baby was born. Then Joseph named him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph could have taken the easy way out.

They were not “technically” married. He could have walked away and gone on with his life and probably had a good one at that. No need to go into this marriage with these kind of questions: doubt, trust and faithfulness issues are not a good way to build a marriage! Even though Joseph wrestled with what to do, he was still a man of faith and courage. Bravery was not lost in him! Instead of taking the easy way out, Joseph choose to remain with Mary and eventually marry her, taking in the Christ child as his own.

Joseph struggled with doing the right thing.

It’s not always cut and dry with how to handle life’s most difficult choices. Joseph had to grapple with how he would handle his family, work, and ultimately Mary over this issue. He considered simply quietly bowing out of the relationship and allowing her to quietly disappear, which in and of itself was honorable. Instead of  publically shaming her and ruining her reputation, he considered just letting her go. But when the angel of the Lord came to visit him in a dream, Joseph’s doubts were somewhat relieved knowing that Mary had been chosen for this task due to her faithfulness. It was her faithfulness that led to her pregnancy not her infidelity!

Joseph chose to put aside his rights and do the honorable thing.

We all have rights and we certainly like to exercise them and protect them. We are willing to fight for our rights and most certainly willing to defend them when we feel like we are being slighted in some way. Joseph however does something amazing. Joseph lays aside his rights to shame and accuse Mary and instead  He takes her in and protects her and Jesus as his very own. Joseph was obedient and brave to do so as there were certainly family and friends who would have counseled him not to venture into marriage with this woman at this point.

Even though Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father, he was the father-figure on earth that God entrusted his son too. I believe that part of that reason was due to the fact that Joseph was so honorable and committed to loving his wife and his God, no matter how crazy it seemed.

Questions to think through and ponder:

Can you think of a time when you took the easy way out of something? How do you feel about it now? Would you go back and do things differently if you could?

What kind of doubts, questions, or even frustrations do you have about doing the right thing?

Do you ever feel that when you do the right thing it isn’t worth it? Why or why not?

Have you ever put aside your rights for another? How did that feel? What happened as a result?

What rights do you hold onto? What personal rights do you refuse to surrender?

How can you become more honorable this Christmas?

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