A Dilemma in Character
Men, what would you do? What if your fiancée or girlfriend told you she is pregnant? Where would your thoughts go knowing you have kept the relationship pure and did not father the child? Most men would be angry and wonder who and why, followed by thoughts like’ “How do I clear my name?” “People need to know that I am not the father.”
Women, how would you expect your boyfriend or fiancé or even your husband to react? Do you think He would stand by you? He knows the child is not his, so why should he not declare his innocence and leave the relationship. All while making it clear to others that you slept around.
A Man named Joseph faced this very dilemma in The Gospel of Matthew chapter 1. Yet, how did he respond? Matthew wrote, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. (Matthew 1:18-19)”
A Righteous Man
Wow! Joseph decided to put her away “in secret” because he didn’t want to “disgrace her”. That says a lot about a man living in a culture that considers sex outside of marriage completely unthinkable. Can you imagine the talk around the small town of Nazareth where Joseph and Mary lived? People would say, “What’s wrong with that Joseph? He gets Mary pregnant and then leaves her. What a disgrace he is?” But because of his upright character, Joseph decided to protect Mary by letting his reputation take the hit. He remained innocent of any sexual sin and could have chosen to say, “She slept around.” But he decided not to. Verse 18 says he acted this way because he was “a righteous man.”
Today, we know the rest of the story. Shortly there after and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:20-21)”
Act with Honor
So Joseph, being a righteous man, believed the words of the Lord and obeyed God. He acted with character and took Mary as His wife.
I certainly can learn from Joseph. Before Joseph even knew the whole story, he planned to treat Mary with respect and act with honor. May we all do the same the next time we think someone has done something to harm us.