A Listening Spirit

Read Matthew 1:18-25

Matthew 1:20 “But after he had considered this…”

Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, demonstrates character strengths in this passage that can encourage our resolve in the face of adversity and difficult situations.

Joseph is described as a righteous man, a just man. According to commentary, the description of righteous in Jewish tradition reveals that Joseph was very zealous in keeping the law and holding on to his strong beliefs. So of course, when he learned his betrothed was pregnant before they had completed the full Jewish marriage ceremony, Joseph was in a position of deep turmoil. True to Joseph’s character of integrity, he decided to follow the law and divorce Mary quietly.

Joseph’s choice to divorce Mary without publicly shaming her is evident of his merciful character. Joseph was sensitive to Mary’s good character and virtue. Even though divorce was appropriate, he chose to honor Mary.

Joseph also displays that he is a man of self-discipline. That Joseph “had considered this” or “while he thought on these things,” reveals his taking time to be guided properly in wisdom and selflessness, not emotional reaction.

The best part of the story reveals yet more of Joseph’s righteous character; he is responsive to God’s direction. In his human understanding and knowledge, Joseph was making a decision that seemed best for both he and Mary. Yet, after the visit of the angel of the LORD, Joseph yielded to the purposes and will of God. He decided that his momentary troubles, although humiliating, were not worth holding onto. Joseph chose to obey the command of the Lord and accomplish God’s purposes.

Holy Father, we are so thankful for this story of Joseph that reveals his character. You honored Joseph’s integrity, mercy, and righteousness even in his ordinary, humble position. You revealed even more of your plans to Joseph, and he listened obediently. May we, too, walk righteously, listening carefully to your will and plans for us, even in the difficulties of our circumstances. In Jesus name, Amen.


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