Christmas Breeze - Change in season (Part II)
Happy New Year. I hope you had an amazing Christmas celebration with friends and family. Sometimes when we get together for the holidays, it can be an interesting experience. Having so many people in with different opinions on what to do and how to do it. Were you one of the opinionated family members or were you the silent family member whose actions spoke louder than words could?
Last week we started our conversation about Joseph, Jesus' 'earthly' father. We do not see him speaking the account of Jesus birth, but we do see him taking positive action. Today we continue our examination of Joseph by looking at the lessons we can learn from the way he acted during this very challenging time in his life.
LESSONS FROM JOSEPH, MARY'S HUSBAND AND JESUS' EARTHLY FATHER
The first thing we learn about Joseph, the man God chose to be Jesus' earthly father, is that:
1. He didn't make rash decisions
Joseph had a very challenging situation to handle. His fiancé had just told him she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit and he must have experienced intense emotional pain. But he exercised self-control and didn't make a rash decision that would have aborted the plan of God. Consider for a moment, how many great plans of God for our lives have been aborted because of rash decisions. In the heat of the moment we allow our emotions to control us and we say or do the wrong thing. What we can learn from Joseph is that in moments of great challenges we should exercise self-control and resist making rash decisions.
Did you know that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit of God? God is the one that supplies it to us. "…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23a (NIV). The first thing to do is to turn our attention to God our supplier. How many situations could have been saved if we exercised some self-control?
The second thing we learn about Joseph is that:
2. He responded with mercy first.
Joseph was a man who understood the heart of God, which always starts with mercy. The Bible says that he was a righteous man "…Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." Matthew 1:19 NIV
It's hard for us to understand how serious the challenge was for Joseph. To do so we need to understand the culture. The Law, Deuteronomy 22:13-21, presented Joseph with the opportunity to have Mary stoned to death. If he did this, he could save face. Can you imagine the pressure he must have been under from his family and the religious leaders of his community? He was probably encouraged to have her stoned or publicly divorce her, leaving her destitute financially. She would also have been an outcast in society, because of the baby no man would have wanted to marry her. Yet he did not respond out of anger nor did he attempt to get back at her.
Relationship troubles usually bring out the worst in people, the kindest and sweetest person can turn bitter, vindictive and think twisted. We've all seen it and perhaps experienced it ourselves. But not so in Joseph's case; he was a man full of mercy in the most trying of circumstances. Here we see possibly why God entrusted Joseph with the awesome responsibility of being Jesus' earthly father. Joseph was not a man who was hot-headed or who rush rashly into judgement. He was a man who strove to do the right thing and was guided by mercy.
As we celebrate Christmas with family and friends, many of us may find ourselves in situations that are challenging or where there is tension. You know, that family member that always says the annoying thing, or that friend who keep asking that question every single person dread - "So, have you found the one?" At these annoying, unfortunate and challenging times, could we adopt the character of Joseph. Could we respond with mercy over judgement? Some of us are going through some very challenging times and the Christmas season is a particularly difficult time because it brings back a lot of bad memories. We are tempted to respond to those around us without mercy and even to make some rash and irrevocable decisions. But during these times may we be like Joseph and extend mercy and make wise decisions.
Joseph showed us by his action that the best way to respond to crisis is to consult God during our times of crisis. He took the time to hear from God. Do we understand how much we need God's wisdom in crisis? If we respond in a Godly way, the thing that came to kill us, is the very thing that will promote and take us to the next level.
Sometimes this process can take place over many years and requires constant interaction with God. Yes, Joseph engaged God and so should we. Join us next week as we continue with lessons we can learn from Joseph, Jesus' earthly father.