As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
—Matthew 1:20-22, NLT
Each year, when I read the Christmas story I am struck by Joseph’s demeanor. Here is a guy who is not yet married—betrothed, yes, but not a relationship that is consummated. He is the epitome of chivalry. We’d all be proud to have him dating our daughter.
But, what’s this?
His girlfriend is pregnant?
Can you put yourself in Joseph’s sandals? Scripture says he was a righteous man and as such did not want Mary to get a bad reputation. He would do whatever was right to uphold the dignity of this young woman. Pretty amazing. And as Joseph wrestles with this situation, in a dream he is visited by an angel telling him not to be afraid: Get married to Mary; it’s going to be a boy. Oh, and the baby is the Holy Spirit’s; his name is Jesus—the Savior that prophets have foretold.
Know what is mind-boggling to the twenty-first-century mind? He did exactly as he was told, cared for his wife all through her pregnancy—all without any sexual relations. Joseph is no candidate for reality TV. He was an upright individual. THE MESSAGE states he was chagrined but noble—humiliated and distressed by his situation, and yet a young man of high moral principles.
That phrase has stuck with me for several days now: “Chagrined but noble.” Do I have strong enough principles to be distressed by seemingly limitless immorality around me? Can I see what is wrong and acknowledge it but not succumb to it? My prayer for myself, as it is for my sons, is that this Christmas we would be principled men—men of noble character, with backbone. Because in Joseph, we have a good model. And through Joseph we learn that our commitment to noble character can make us trustworthy stewards of the great works of God happening in our midst.
By Publisher Don Pape