I’m overwhelmed. Really. Even just a bit ago someone shared with me the way last week’s message from Matthew 1 [click here for Pastor Matthew’s message] has rattled her. She wept. I wept. Who would have thought that embedded within the Christmas story’s focus on Joseph the Carpenter is a laser-like word for one of society’s point-problems: men who won’t stand up and be real men, and women who settle for less than what is best because they don’t feel they can afford to expect too much.
All we did was reflect on some of the features exhibited by Joseph in Matthew 1:18-25. Features like the fact that he was a man of abiding conviction, someone who lived life rooted in the Word of God. That is why the author refers to him as “being a just man” (v. 19). Joseph was also a man of thoughtful compassion and care; not harsh, not passive, but balanced and tender. The way he treated Mary in the face of all the bewildering circumstances of her pregnancy is the textbook example of grace.
And he was a man of profound courage, willing to stand tall and tackle the things that the mighty God laid before him; things that no doubt confused the people who were watching. When the time came to choose to yield to God’s direction, as given in the dream, Joseph got up and availed himself to God’s purposes (v. 24).
But the thing that has rattled many, interestingly, is the notion that Joseph was a man of deep commitment. That he would enter into a formal and legally binding engagement with Mary, demonstrating that he was utterly committed to her, is a model that is becoming more and more a departure from today’s mores, where men and women are choosing to merely live with one another without any real pledge to one another. We made the case in this past week’s message that the example for marital relationship, according to God’s Word, is a binding covenant—a commitment. This being so, Joseph modeled something of great importance: the woman that he loved was worthy of commitment. Anything short of that, we noted, suggested that Joseph would be a passive and self-absorbed wimp; not a real or noble man. And should Mary have pursued a relationship with such a man, then she would, in a phrase, be settling for something less than her best. It is a classic example of two people—especially the man who should be the leader—wanting the accolades of relationship without any real responsibility.
Oh the reaction. So many men have passed along that they needed the challenge to stand up and be real men. And, of course, there are those few less-than-noble men who have complained that I was too harsh or not loving. Give me a break! They need to stop whining and stand up and be like holy knights rather than hedonistic fools. Our society is dying, literally, for real men to positively shape their respective worlds.
And the women? So many have expressed deep pain because too often they have simply settled for what is not their best. How hungry they are for something better. Some are already embedded within a covenant relationship wherein there is so little conviction, courage or commitment. Others are not yet married, but are dreaming of the day that they could spend life with a true knight. Oh that their dream could be fulfilled—a dream wherein they enter into a covenant with a man of nobility who will reflect the heart of the Almighty. May they not settle for what is short of that!
Christmas is so much about the birth of Jesus; all that Jesus represents in time and space and beyond. But who would have thought that there could be so much about what it is to be the man God desires?
Father, like Joseph may I be a man of nobility
Courageously leading the gift which is my family
Standing tall for their honor and future
Tenderly showing them strength with purity
May the effect, O God, of a faithful life
Mark them until the coming of Christ
That for generations I’ll never see
The Son of God will be honored because of me