By Chris Cartwright, Contributing WriterDuring The Christmas Season there are many things grabbing our attention and distracting us from the true meaning of Christmas. Whether its Santa Clause, Christmas Shopping, decorating, or cooking Christmas feasts, there are a myriad of things which can redirect our attention from celebrating the birth of our Savior.
When our focus does finally get directed back to the biblical reason for the season, we typically focus on the birth of Christ, as well as his person and work which he came to accomplish…and rightly so!
But you know what? While we should focus much on this gift from the heavenly Father, there is a lot that we can learn from Jesus’ earthly father as well! While we do not have an extensive biography on the lives and marriage of Mary and Joseph given to us in scripture, the few short passages which share about them are packed with principles! The following are just 5 out of the many lessons which we can learn from Joseph:
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1. Developing character should begin BEFORE marriage
Matthew 1:18-19a “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they had come together she was found to be with child. by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man…”
From this text it is clear that Joseph was a man of character, since he is called a righteous man. This is not something that came about overnight. Chances are that he had been cultivating a life of righteousness before the Lord long before he and Mary were married.
2. Joseph treated his wife with dignity
Matt 1:19 “And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.”
At this point Joseph had every reason to believe that Mary had been unfaithful to him. He knew that he had not been intimate with her…so therefore there must be another man in the picture. In that time period, as people living under the Mosaic Law, Mary could have been publicly shamed, and even put to death for such an offense. However, Joseph did not want to bring disgrace to her. Joseph wanted to treat her with the utmost respect…even through in his mind, she had been unfaithful to him.
3. Joseph was a spiritual leader, led by God
Matt 1:24 “And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,”
After God made it clear to Joseph what he wanted him to do, Joseph did not make excuses or try to run from his God-ordained task. Rather he stepped up to the plate and led his family in the direction that God had revealed for him to lead them.
4. Joseph was a man of self-control
Matt 1:24-25 “And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a son; and he called His name Jesus.”
Verse 25 is amazing! Joseph waited until after Jesus was born to become physically intimate with his wife. While Joseph took Mary to be his wife long before she gave birth to Jesus, he did not let his passions control him, rather he put the needs of his wife before his own. He considered God’s plan to be more important than fulfilling the natural desires which God has placed in each one of us.
5. Joseph was the protector of his family
Matt 2:13-15 “Now when they had gone, behold, and angel of the Lord *appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and too the Child and his mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
As a man who was lead by God, Joseph took very seriously his obligation to protect his family. As soon as he heard that his son’s life was in danger, he quickly moved them to Egypt…the place where God had revealed to him was safe.
So as you read through the nativity story, while reflecting on the real reason for the season, don’t miss the many other lessons that we can learn from the events surrounding the Birth of our savior. What are some of the other principles you have learned from the passages about Jesus’ birth?
This post is part of our Surviving the Holidays With Your Marriage Intact series! Come back all month long for tips, advice, giveaways, and a FREE eBook on the Holidays here at A Biblical Marriage. You can find the rest of the series HERE.