Character and Reputation

“Joseph, [Mary’s] husband, was a righteous man.” Matthew 1:19 NIV.

Character and obedience always matter first to God.

My thoughts and comments today are about “character and reputation.”

Joseph is little noticed and under-appreciated in the Christmas drama. Yet God chose Joseph just as carefully as was Mary chosen. Joseph had history and reputation with God. The Bible says that God saw, “Joseph, [Mary’s] husband, was a righteous man.” Matthew 1:19 NIV. A righteous man; what a description of Godly character. God chose a just and righteous man who would model spiritual devotion and shape the humanity of Jesus. Joseph modeled Godly care and character. His example and personal faith would be extremely influential in the young child’s earliest years.

Mary would need a good hearted man, just and righteous, to accept and protect her. And a kind and caring man to firmly stand between her and the predictable whispers of disapproval, or maybe even the rejection of family. A righteous man would reflect God’s love and protection for Mary. God knew the difficult choices Joseph would face, and God knew that Joseph would make a just and righteous decision. Read Matthew 1:18-25 NKJV. He could protect his good name or provide a home for Mary and this child. He could not do both. In life, hard choices have to be made; not all options are equal.

Jesus would need a Godly father to teach Him the ways of God. Joseph would model the justice and righteousness of God in his home. Character and obedience always matter first to God. When there is something to be done of eternal import, God chooses people who consistently put God first. God’s plans for your life always require a priority of His purpose. Joseph had history with God; God could trust his choices. Do God’s will first and foremost; then all else finds its proper order.

My Dad, a pastor, often “preached” this principle to me, “First things first!” When asked to do something, I usually had a different option I preferred. I always intended to do as he asked, eventually, as convenience and circumstance allowed. My Dad never found that acceptable. As a child, I learned that my convenience was not a substitute for my Dad’s expectations; as an adult, I learned why that is not a strategy that works in life.

Priority evidences importance. You put first who or what you consider to be of first importance. Jesus put the Father first because the Father was His priority. Jesus modeled His priority; “I always do those things that please [the Father].” John 8:29 NKJV. Advent should involve re-structuring the way things have become; “Your Heavenly Father knows all your needs, and He will give you all your need from day to day, if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matthew 6:33 NLT. Reflect on what your primary concerns and the obedience required to fulfill those should be.

This Christmas seems an opportunity for an honest inventory of how you and your family reflect this practical issue of keeping, “first things first.” Christmas is a good time to be reminded of the Old Testament prophet’s words, “[God] has shown you what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8. Life is to be lived justly and more sacrificially every day, in every way.

This Advent, my prayer for you is that your history with God releases your destiny in God.