December 6, 2013
A Man of Integrity
By Skip Heitzig
In the Christmas story, after Jesus, Mary is the one who gets top billing. And that’s only right for the virgin who birthed the Savior into the world. But today I want to bring Joseph into the forefront.
In just a few verses, Matthew 1:18-25, we see him go through a gamut of stressful emotions—from excitement to shock, to bewilderment, to fear, to resolve—that show the kind of man he was: just and righteous, a man of integrity.
First on his emotional journey, he was excited because he was betrothed to Mary. We can all understand that. Then, when “Mary…was found with child” (v. 18), he was shocked because he’d had no physical relationship with her at all. Next, he was bewildered (see v. 19). He didn’t want to shame her publicly, but his reputation was on the line. And he was afraid, as we see in verse 20.
Finally, he was resolved, as he “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife” (v. 24). He awoke from his dream with courage and the commitment to go forward, no matter what anyone thought or said. This amazing, marvelous man had no part in bringing the child into the world, but he took on the task of caring for Mary and raising Jesus. It was a wonder and privilege.
Joseph’s journey suggests three life lessons. First: Families work best when Jesus is at the center. In Joseph's family, their whole life revolved around Jesus: he and Mary were not the star of this family; Jesus was. And I wish more families would make Jesus the center, the star.
Second: The best decisions in life are often the hardest ones. Many Christians think like this: "If it's God's will, it's going to be real easy. Things will pop right into place.” But that’s wrong. The easiest thing for Joseph to do would have been to divorce Mary privately and just walk away. However, he made the righteous choice. Sometimes the hardest choices are exactly the ones God wants us to make. Our focus should be: What's the righteous thing to do? What does God want me to do?
Third: The world needs more men of integrity. Joseph was a just and righteous man (see verse 19) who became the provider for the Child, the partner to this woman and the worshipper of Emmanuel, “God with us.” More than at any other time in our history as a nation, we need men to lead families who will be partners, providers, and worshippers of God.
What does your life revolve around? Does it really revolve around Jesus or does it revolve around you, your plan, your future, your comfort? When Jesus enters a life, that life is to revolve around him. God isn’t some item on a shelf that we add to our lives. Our lives change and revolve around Him.
I want to encourage all fathers, including stepfathers and foster fathers, to be affirming, forgiving, loving, encouraging, gracious, and merciful. I pray that we would pause during this season and place Jesus at the center of our lives. And let us be committed and resolved to follow God wherever He leads.
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