RIGHTEOUSNESS AND MERCY
Joseph, her husband, was a righteous man. Matthew 1:19
When Judah found out that his daughter-in-law, Tamar, had played the part of a harlot, he sentenced her to be burned. When Joseph discovered that his fiancée, Mary, was pregnant, he reached out to her in love and mercy. Joseph was a righteous man and righteousness reaches out with mercy first, whereas humanness pronounces judgment. Joseph really knew Mary and wrestled with the issue of her pure heart and her circumstances. He knew that Mary’s chastity and her pregnancy were incongruent. Only God would ease his torment by revealing the truth about her conception.
Without God’s work of redemption in my heart, there is something sinister in me that loves gossip. Getting the dirt on upright people can be enjoyable. Shooting arrows of condemnation at them can be cathartic as I try to make myself believe that I’m not as bad as I thought. Jesus’ standard of selfless, agape love burns brightly and eats holes through my self-righteousness. He reminds me that love is loyal and believes the best till proven otherwise.
A person can live righteously for forty years, mess up once, and people are quick to erase his good track record. All that he has been and done is wiped from his credentials. Where is our merciful response, the one we would want if we were in his shoes? “Christine has done what? That doesn’t sound like her. If it’s true, I wonder what happened to Christine to make her act like that?”
“Mary, pregnant? That can’t be. Mary has a heart for her God and has proven herself faithful to me. There must be more to this story.” And for Joseph, there was.
You delight in righteousness, Lord. Left to myself, I delight in another’s downfall. Make me like Joseph, not Judah. Amen.