Joseph was a good man. The Gospel writer, Matthew, calls him a “righteous” man. (Matthew 1:19) He was no doubt a good Jew and a follower of the laws of Moses. He was following the traditions of the Jewish people when he pledged to marry a young woman named Mary.

The passage in Matthew’s gospel calls Joseph the husband of Mary. But Matthew specifies in chapter one, verse 18 that they had not yet “come together” as husband and wife. In our modern western understanding, perhaps we could think of them as engaged, though their arrangement in their culture held more legal significance. To break the bonds of their commitment, a divorce was necessary.

Imagine what Joseph must have felt when he discovered that his betrothed, Mary, was with child and not by him. He must have thought that he had made a mistake in choosing Mary. Clearly she wasn’t the good Jewish girl he thought she was. Jewish law allowed for divorce in such cases. Who would blame him? But because he was a kind man, he decided to divorce her quietly so she would not be disgraced further.

And then a messenger from God came to him in a dream. The angel told him not to be afraid and to take Mary as his wife. They had been chosen by God for a special assignment.

Tradition and laws led Joseph on a path to do the “right thing” in divorcing Mary. It took a message from God himself to convince him that the right thing in this circumstance was to wed Mary and play a big part in God’s redemption of mankind.

May each of us be open to doing the God thing. Have courage if he changes your course from doing what you thought was the right thing.

Father, in my attempt to do the right things, may I hear your voice and have courage to do what you lead me to do.

Throughout this day: Listen to Joseph’s Song

, by Michael Card, and imagine what it must have been like for Joseph to believe and act on what God told him. Allow the Holy Spirit to help you see any areas where he may be asking you to do something you didn’t expect.

Tags: Matthew 1 Joseph God righteousness
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