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. 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 keeps us from obeying God? Obviously, there are many reasons. I’m certain you can come up with your own list.
Sometimes we disobey the Lord because it isn’t convenient. We’re unwilling to change our plans to conform to God’s plan.
Disobedience can be caused by unwillingness to turn loose of behaviors or relationships unacceptable to God. For example: peer pressure. We care more about pleasing others than pleasing God. And putting self before God — leads to disobedience.
In today’s selected text from the Christmas story, we see how God challenged Joseph to rise above his feelings and the potential for public disgrace. Mary was pregnant, and he wasn’t the father. Imagine the humiliation and hurt he must have felt.
We know from Matthew 1:19 his mind was set on divorce. The customary method was by public trial intending to bring the utmost humiliation and shame upon the fornicating woman.
God’s message came in a dream from an angel and began with the greeting, “Do not be afraid.” For Joseph to obey, he must change his heart, mind, and plans. He would have to rise above fear and pride to follow God’s command, “Take Mary home as your wife.”
How would you have responded? “Not after what she has done! Not after the humiliation and shame she has brought on me.”
There are many instructions in God’s word calling upon us to act contrary to the ways of man. In the following examples, consider the humiliation and hurt caused by our enemies; those who persecute, curse, and mistreat us.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44
“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:28
Yes, these instructions are hard to follow, especially when you have been grievously wronged. Joseph modeled the right way for rising above feelings and pride. Obey God and trust Him with the results. He did it. You and I can do it.
But you say, “Joseph’s situation was different. An angel spoke to him.”
And the Lord has spoken to us through His word. We shouldn’t need the jolt of an angelic visitation to motivate us to obey the Lord.
Joseph did it God’s way, and the Heavenly Father used him to accomplish His purposes. When you refuse to follow God’s commands, you are in effect taking yourself out of the game and denying yourself many of the great blessings God has for you. When you seek revenge and wish ill on others, you are only putting a temporary bandage on wounds that won’t heal. You may feel momentary satisfaction, but God’s way provides liberation.
Relationships and families are sadly broken because we refuse to follow God’s instructions on relationships. Joseph didn’t respond with “I will do it my way.” His response revealed that God’s way was the right way.
Freely give grace (unmerited favor) today. God will reward your faithfulness. The quickest and most sure route to overcoming hurt and humiliation is rise above your feelings and do it God’s way.
For more on this topic, check out this article: The Key to Better Relationships
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 4 (October – December) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.