The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant from the Holy Spirit.
We don’t know much about Joseph, the husband of Mary. We know he was a carpenter. He wasn’t wealthy. He wasn’t influential in the community. He did not seem to be a man of consequence. But he was chosen by God to be the earthly father of Jesus. There are a few other things we can infer about him.
He loved the Word of God. Matthew tells us he was a righteous man. You cannot be righteous unless you love God’s Word. Pastors, first of all we must love God’s Word. We preach from it and teach from it certainly. All of our interaction with it must be based in a love for it. Because we love it, we value it and take great care in how we exegete and share it with others.
He exhibited Mercy directed by Righteousness. This is a delicate balance. Joseph thought that Mary must have committed adultery (how else could she be with child) but he did not want to embarrass her while still holding truth and integrity in high regard.
Mercy without Righteousness is not willing to stand for anything. It frustrates others when they don’t know where we stand. Pastors must not allow themselves to be manipulated away from truth by those who exalt mercy over righteousness.
Righteousness without Mercy takes a harsh stand that alienates more than it communicates. It justifies angry outbursts as a protection of righteousness. Pastors must be careful to speak the truth in love, not in a way that humiliates others in the name of righteousness.
Joseph loved Mary. Look at how he treated her BEFORE he knew the whole story. He didn’t want to embarrass her and he was slow to wrath. Look at how he treated her AFTER he knew the whole story. He was willing to take heat from his family and his community. Pastors, we must love our congregations in the same way. Be patient with them. Don’t embarrass anyone. Stand with them when they walk out on the limb of faith. Support them as they follow the Lord.
Joseph loved God. When you are certain that God is leading you there is an ease of obedience that settles in your soul. Joseph heard from the Lord and quickly followed in spite of all the challenges before him. Pastors, be encouraged. Follow the Lord when He leads. Go without hesitation. Go in spite of the difficulties. Go with ease, knowing the Lord will never lead you somewhere He hasn’t already gone before you.