This Advent, we’ll walk verse by verse through the Bible’s Christmas story as chronicled by Matthew and Luke.
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” ~ Matthew 1:18-19
If there is one person who is usually given the short end of the stick when it comes to Christmas, it’s Joseph. There are no hymns that I know of written of his role in the Christmas story. Do a Google search of “artwork of Mary”, and you’ll get thousands of replies. Type in “artwork of Joseph”, and you’ll hear the hard drive whirr around aimlessly. In Nativity scenes, Joseph is usually standing back, the strong silent male looking on quietly along with the cows and the little drummer boy.
What’s interesting though as you read the Bible’s Christmas narratives, particularly Matthew’s – is that Joseph is is very much front and center. And what we see of him in these few short verses is impressive. This is a godly man, and one way he exhibits it is the mastery he shows over his emotions.
What do you think Joseph was feeling at this moment? To be in love with a women, and then find out that she is pregnant and you know this is not your baby. There is no anger on earth like the anger felt when you believe the one you love has been unfaithful to you. We hear all the time about crimes of passion. I’m certain Joseph was at least tempted to go there. Tempted to slap Mary around. Tempted to find out who slept with her and take one of his carpenter’s hammers to his head.
Masculinity and passion go hand in hand. We have this hormone called testosterone which surges through us like a lava flow. God gave it to us. It’s part of who we are by creation. Properly channeled it enables a man to attempt great things, to exhibit courage, to launch into the deep, to explore, to invent, to conquer, to battle, to initiate.
Part of the problem in America today is that men are told that this passion is bad. So we take little boys and remove their GI Joes and Tonka trucks and give them teddy-bears and dollhouses. But leave the little boys alone, and suddenly the teddy-bears become Transformers, which start stomping on the dollhouses. It’s not that this passion is bad and must be removed – it’s good and must be channeled. And a godly man will learn to channel that passion, like Joseph did.
The Christmas season unleashes a lot of emotions in us, not all of them good. It would be a great gift to give to your family this Christmas to begin to allow Jesus to train you to walk in emotional self-control.
So WWJD? What would Joseph do? He ran his emotions through God. The passage tells us he was a just and righteous man. Which is code-language meaning he was a God-seeker. We see evidence of that in what Joseph does next.
He “resolved” to divorce Mary quietly. The Greek word points to great forethought and planning. Joseph had numerous options before him. Punish Mary. Humiliate her. And then in his heart came another option – break it off quietly. Keep your head. Be a man of honor.
Where did that come from? It no doubt came from God as Joseph sought him for what to do.
How are you doing in reeling in the passions inside of you? Are you a master of your emotions, or do they pull you around by the nose? The Christmas season unleashes a lot of emotions in us, not all of them good. It would be a great gift to give to your family this Christmas to begin to allow Jesus to train you to walk in emotional self-control.
Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. His blogs and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: trainyourselfministry.com and his writing website: blclifton.com. Bear is the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon.