A Vertical Moment
“When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:18-19).
Sometimes, God’s plan is not clear to us. We don’t understand; we only see what is in front of us, and what’s in front of us hurts.
This is Joseph’s dilemma in Matthew 1. He and Mary were betrothed (legally pledged to be married). Like other engaged couples, they were likely filled with hope for their life together. And then … Joseph learns Mary is pregnant. The baby could not be his. I am sure Joseph loved Mary; He wanted her to be his wife. And now this?
We don’t know much about the life of Joseph, but we know this: he was a just man. It means he was upright, righteous, and virtuous. He didn’t want to shame Mary so he planned to divorce her quietly. Stoning was the legal penalty for this sort of adultery (Deut. 22:23-24), but he would be discreet. This was his plan, until an angel of the Lord appeared and reassured him to take Mary as his wife and be the father to this wondrous Baby from the Holy Spirit.
Father, make us just. Help us be willing to do the right thing, even the hard thing, but give us hearts of compassion to be discreet. You will correct us if your plan differs from what we understand to be right, or just. You are true justice. “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deut. 32:4)