Summary: A first-person narrative from Mary's perspective on what made her husband a faith-action hero.
Noah. David. Daniel. Are these the people that come to mind when you think of faith-action heroes? Spending your life’s savings to build a boat that may never see water seems like a pointless waste. Staring up at an armed and angry nine-foot giant while packing nothing more than a few stones seems foolhardy. And willingly descending into a pit of hungry lions because you would rather suffer a tortuous death than stop praying for a month? Wow! Compared to these men the man I want to speak to you about this morning might not seem all that courageous. That man is Joseph, my husband. He too is a faith-action hero. May I share why I think so in my Advent Admissions?
I, Mary of Nazareth, met Joseph when…oh never mind. That part of our history is not important. It’s enough for you to know that Joseph was a simple carpenter from my hometown. But because he was hardworking and was a pious believer, my father readily accepted his proposal for my hand in marriage. Once we became engaged, Joseph started to prepare a place for us to live. Only when those accommodations were done would we live together as husband and wife – though in the eyes of the people we were already that.
That’s why when I became pregnant with Jesus, pregnant due to the miraculous working of God the Holy Spirit, Joseph was devastated. As far as he could figure, I must have enjoyed the company of another man when I had gone off to visit my cousin Elizabeth in Judea for three months. Did I try to convince Joseph otherwise? What was I supposed to say? “I’m a pregnant virgin, Joseph. An angel told me that I would give birth to God’s Son.” It still sounds so ridiculous! But that was the truth and someone else, namely God, would have to convince Joseph of it.
Joseph told me later that he felt so alone when he found out that I was pregnant. He wanted to seek the advice of others but he knew that if he made a big deal, it could have easily led to a public renouncing which would have ended in my death by stoning! I’m sure there were a number of people in Nazareth who thought I deserved that.
After much agonizing Joseph decided to divorce me quietly. Did Joseph have a God-pleasing right to file for a divorce? As far as he knew, he did. If I really had been unfaithful, then God allowed for divorce. But by planning on giving me a certificate of divorce quietly, Joseph showed what an upstanding man he was. Although he was disappointed in me, he wasn’t spiteful. But after Joseph had resolved to carry out his plan, an angel appeared to him in a dream and told Joseph not to be afraid to take me home as his wife because what was growing inside of me was in fact the Son of God.
Joseph’s experience reminds me how just because you have thought through a problem doesn’t mean that your conclusion will be in line with God’s will. Are there things you have convinced yourself as being God-pleasing but may not be? Perhaps it’s the treatment of your parents, or the way that you talk to your children or spouse. Maybe it’s how you take care of personal business on company time. Don’t just do what others do. Don’t just act in a way that seems acceptable. Find out from God’s Word what his will is for you in all matters! That means, for example, speaking kind words to others even if they don’t return the respect.
Of course there are situations when God isn’t clear about which direction you should take like which school you should attend or how much of your income you should spend on yourself and how much of it you should save and give away. Seek God’s guidance in prayer. Ask a fellow believer’s advice. And check your motivation. Then make a decision and ask God to bless it. If the decision is not in line with his will, trust that God will intervene. He did in Joseph’s case when he sent an angel to convince him not to divorce me.
So how would you have reacted to the angel’s message? Would you have asked God to send another angel just to make sure the message was for real? Joseph didn’t. He obeyed…immediately. He took me into his house and cared for me. Together we would face the ridicule and the questions that were sure to come regarding this pregnancy. Do you see why I consider Joseph a faith-action hero? Faith is not just agreeing with what God says; it’s doing what he says even when it doesn’t make sense or is “inconvenient.”