The Measure of a Good Man

Pastor Kevin Pauley

The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. So Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit… When Joseph woke up from his sleep, he did as the Lord's angel had commanded him. He took his wife home – Matthew 1:18-20, 24 HCSB

A measure of a good man is not only his understanding of the value of a good reputation, but also his willingness to sacrifice his own for the right cause.

Joseph, impelled by a dream that many of us would have simply ascribed to too much late night coffee, agreed to take on a great burden. Not only would he raise someone else’s child, (something that many adoptive parents do gladly) but he would do so with everyone thinking he had sinned.

The Scriptures say that Joseph was a tzaddik. Some in-laws of his were also described as HYPERLINK "" tzaddiks because they lived “without blame according to all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” And like all good HYPERLINK "" tzaddikim, he was concerned about appearances. He didn’t want to disgrace Mary publicly and was prepared to demonstrate mercy in a practical manner, but God intervened and asked Joseph to also sacrifice his reputation for the cause of Mercy.

We know that everyone thought that Joseph and Mary had been indiscreet because the Pharisees later accused Jesus of being a bastard. “We weren’t born of sexual immorality…” they exclaimed – suggesting that He was.

Joseph quietly led his life, raising God’s Son and allowing everyone to think poorly of himself so that this exasperatingly perfect child would have a good home. It was not always easy. Even Jesus was difficult at times. He once failed to make His ride home and was gone for days without an apology. What do you think the other parents said behind Joseph and Mary’s back that time?

It has never been Jesus’ goal to make our lives easy or comfortable. Because of His divinity, He will always be difficult and demanding. He may ask us, as He has most of His prophets, to lead tough, thankless and unrecognized lives.

Another tzaddik nailed the issue on the head when some friends of his were concerned about his reputation. "Rabbi,” they said, “the One you testified about, and who was with you across the Jordan, is baptizing--and everyone is flocking to Him." John the Baptist’s reply should be taken to all our hearts:

“He must increase, but I must decrease."

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