“It’s my life.”
How often do we hear those words from those around us. How often do they come out of our mouths?
But as one author put it, “It’s not about you.”
Rather, this life is about God, and the story he is weaving in us and around us.
When I think about Joseph, I see someone who understood this.
Think about his initial reaction to Mary. They were engaged, and in their culture it was far more binding than in ours. Though they were still not living with each other or sleeping with each other, by Jewish law it still required a divorce to dissolve the engagement.
But during that time, Mary is found to be pregnant.
How does Joseph feel? Probably hurt. Betrayed. Angry. And as I’ve mentioned before, by law, he had the right to have Mary stoned for his unfaithfulness.
But it says in verse 19,
Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
Obviously, he didn’t want to marry her anymore. What man would? But hurt as he was, he didn’t seek revenge. He didn’t seek “justice.” He didn’t insist on his “rights” as the injured party.
Rather, he planned to show mercy to her. He wasn’t even going to make a big show of the divorce proceedings. He was just going to have it quietly done to spare as much pain as possible to Mary.
I wonder if Mary even tried to explain. How in the world do you say, “Don’t worry Joseph. I wasn’t unfaithful to you. God did this.”
Would you believe that? No reasonable person would. And because God knew that, he intervened, sending an angel to tell Joseph,
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. (20-21)
Now on one level, I’m sure that it did bring some comfort to Joseph to hear this. But on another level, it would have been really easy to wipe his hands clean of the whole situation.
If he took Mary as his wife, there was a good chance that the people around would start to suspect that he was guilty of sleeping with Mary before they got married, and to stain his reputation.
What’s more, he could’ve easily said, “That may be true, God, but it’s not my baby. I didn’t ask for this. And you certainly didn’t ask me about it. Why should I take responsibility for Mary and the baby?”
But difficult as it was, Joseph took Mary as his wife. Despite the rumors. Despite all the difficulties. Why? Because he knew this life wasn’t about him. That God had a bigger plan in which he wanted to save Israel, and the world. So Joseph put aside his rights, his plans, and his life to serve God and Mary. But in doing so, I have to believe that he also found joy and fulfillment.
How about you? Are you living for yourself? If you do, ultimately, it leaves you empty. But by living for God and his purposes, you find life. As Jesus himself put it,
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:25)
Who are you living for?