Profiles of the Advent – Joseph

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

The Bible has very little to say about Joseph, but what it does say speaks volumes. We know that he was a builder. As such, he was likely poor, and it would have taken him a long time to save up money to properly start a family. He would have had to possess a dwelling, have furniture and be able to pay a dowry. We also notice that Matthew 1:19 says, “Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.”

First, it is significant that he is called righteous. Let’s face it, he had to be a pretty good guy. If the scriptures, inspired by the power of God, say a man is righteous, then he is righteous. But it is not just words that will proclaim righteousness, but deeds will bear out that assertion.

Joseph was in a difficult position to say the least. He had obviously saved money for a long time in order to prepare to get married. It would seem that he had been very patient to pursue his dreams and aspirations of establishing a godly family with a godly wife. It appears that he fell in love with a young girl and decided to become engaged.

The act of being engaged at this time was different than it is in our time. In Joseph and Mary’s day, being engaged was as binding as being married, the only difference being that they did not live under the same roof. So imagine Joseph’s grief when he learned that his betrothed was pregnant.

Under Jewish law, Joseph had every right to make a public example of Mary and have her punished. Who wouldn’t consider such an act? After all, he had saved money for years to fulfill his dreams and here this girl sends his dreams crashing down around him when she gets herself pregnant? Are you kidding? Who wouldn’t feel the anger and despair, and crave retribution?

But notice what Joseph did. He didn’t desire to disgrace her. That shows the love that he had for her. Next, he made plans to divorce her in secret, and not make a public example out of her. That is not only an act of love, but it is an act of selflessness.

Perhaps Jesus had His earthly father in mind when He said, “love your enemies, and do good…and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High” (Luke 6:35). Jesus taught us that selflessness is not exemplified when we love the lovable, but when we love the ones who hate us. Selflessness is putting others before ourselves. Talking about agape love in I Corinthians 13, it is written that “love is kind and is not jealous…does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.”

If our lives were examined under a microscope, would our actions, feelings and motivations be the definition of selflessness or selfishness? Let us take time to make sure we do not exemplify selfishness, but selflessness.


2 Responses to “Profiles of the Advent – Joseph”

  1. December 17, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Wonderful article. Too many times, I’ve let revenge and being “right” get in the way.

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