18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because 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.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
What struck me these verses is the response of Joseph to Mary’s pregnancy before he was visited by the angel. This is Joseph’s reaction when he still believed that Mary must have been unfaithful to him. It gives us a glimpse of the kind of man Joseph must have been.
From his perspective at that point, Mary must have wronged him. But he did not respond with vindictiveness, seeking to punish Mary. He could have publicly accused her, and if the Romans weren’t watching (which was likely in a little town like Nazareth), she might have been stoned to death. Joseph could have pretended that he wasn’t acting out of personal revenge, but rather to uphold the purity of the law.
But he treats Mary better than – in his mind – she deserves. He turns away from the path of revenge and getting even. Instead, he follows the path that Jesus describes with great eloquence and force in the sermon on the mount, and lived out on the cross. It’s not about being right or showing that you are right. It’s about showing love.
How do I treat those whom I believe have wronged me? Am I prone to seek to get even? To pay back? Or rather, will I show mercy and grace, as did Joseph?
Lord, may your grace to me be reflected in the grace that I show others, especially toward those I believe have wronged me.
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