Right or Righteous
Every year Christmas rolls around with a healthy amount of fanfare and multicolored lights. And every year I feel myself steeling myself mentally for the chaos that is bound to follow. Maybe I’ve just been burned by the retail life I’ve worked in for eight plus years, or maybe I’ve just let the retail life have too much impact on the beautiful possibilities this season brings. Either way, this is where I found myself this season when I happened upon this trail of thought.
We know Mary. We sing songs about her and recognize her as an incredible part of the Christmas story. We wonder how she felt, we admire her strength and bravery, and all of that is well founded. But today when I was reading through the Christmas story I couldn’t help but feel for Joseph.
Joseph was described as a “righteous man.” From that biblical description we can probably assume that he worked hard to do what he should for his God. He sacrificed and was faithful, went to church on Sunday morning, and was kind to the poor. He didn’t bad mouth his brother and obeyed his pastor.
Yet still he found himself in what he could only define as a heartbreaking tragedy one night when an angel came to visit. His wife to be would have a son that was not his. He had lived a faithful life—one where embarrassing things like this should not have happened. He played his cards right, so why was this happening to him?
Have you ever felt that struggle: the feeling where you’re sitting there on the edge of your bed dealing with an unexpected sickness, the loss of a loved one, or the embarrassment of a relationship gone wrong? And you wonder how you could have possibly brought this on yourself. What do you do? How do you handle something like that?
Joseph, a righteous man, was going to deal with the situation his own way. He had mind to put her away privately. He would deal with her the kind way. After all, he’d done nothing to deserve the destruction it would bring to his character.
It makes sense the only reason we’d call that decision to question is because we have the whole story to look back on now. The angel came to him and told him to go a completely different direction, instructing him to give up his previous reputation as a “righteous man” and exchange it for a direct calling from God.
He went from being “good” to being “great,” and it all hung on his ability to live with the disapproval of others.
My question for you this holiday season is what happens when you’re asked to do something that your people won’t agree with? What do you do when your direction from God pushes you to a place of discomfort?
The difference between where Joseph was and where he ended was a matter of a word from God, a couple of disapprovals, and a direct hand in the coming of Jesus Christ.
Where are you? What would you say if an angel appeared to you in your dreams and turned your world upside down? Would you go on being righteous, or would you be willing to step up and help change the world?
Olivia Dummer is a student in Blue Springs, Missouri where Jason Huckaby is her pastor. She writes and keeps an inspirational blog hoping to encourage others and share what she’s learned about God.