At what time of the year do we often turn our attention to the nativity story in the Bible? I’m sure everyone will say “at Christmas”. And almost every Christmas story starts with an emphasis on Mary, the mother of Jesus and how she was conceived by the Holy Spirit and so on. But, as I read the scripture, this morning, my attention was drawn towards a ‘word’ that is used to describe Joseph.
We read in Matthew 1:18, 19
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”
Righteous! We often link that word to people who attend church regularly, a good father, a faithful employee, or perhaps someone who lives a fairly ‘good’ and ‘decent’ life. To be righteous is to be morally right. To do what is right in the sight of God.
Joseph was betrothed to Mary. Betrothals or marriage engagements among Jewish people during the time of Jesus were binding and could only be terminated by an official divorce decree. According to the law, to get pregnant during this betrothal period was seen equal to adultery and Mary could have been stoned to death, if not for the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Joseph did not want others to know that Mary, who was betrothed to him was pregnant and certainly not by him. And he was thinking of divorcing her silently. His very act of not letting Mary to be publicly disgraced is an act of righteousness. This is the kind of trait we need to develop and exhibit in our daily life.
The reality is that we live in a day and age where people’s faults are highlighted and put under the spotlight so much that it almost destroys the person. It can strangle the life out of someone. Gossip, exaggerations are so common.
Once a woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus and was asked to give his opinion on her case. And Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone….”. By judging others, we declare ourselves self-righteous! Joseph was a righteous man and so he did not want Mary to be insulted before the public. Let the life of Joseph be an example for us to follow. Let us strive not to expose others to public disgrace by our words or deeds, but focus on re-examining our lives and living righteously before God’s eyes.
Later, we read in Matthew 1:20,
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
‘After he had considered this’ … God gave him a divine revelation – a revelation about the birth of the Savior of all people and the things he is supposed to do.
Our acts of righteousness touch the heart of God and God reveals His plans and guidance for us at the right time.
Acts of righteousness leads to divine revelation
Let us strive to be right in everything we do in our lives and in turn receive revelations from God leading to His glory!
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, Be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord” (Psalms 19:14)