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Bible Reading / Twelve Days of Christmas

Day Four


Read: Matthew 1:18-25

If you read the Christmas story carefully, you find that it says Joseph, the father of Jesus, was a righteous man. Read it again, though, it says that he was righteous for something he didn’t do rather than something he did.

When Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant while they are engaged, he decides to break the engagement quietly ‘because Joseph was a righteous man.’ Joseph could have held onto his right to get her in a whole lot of trouble – even stoned for alleged adultery. Though he would have been wrong, by the letter of the Old Testament law, He would be righteous.

However, Joseph follows the custom of righteous people in his day of laying down their rights. Ancient Jews knew the Old Testament penalties for adultery, lying, cheating and stealing – even being disobedient to your parents. In reality, however, righteous people often didn’t press charges in crimes because they knew the power of grace.

They knew that having rights doesn’t make you righteous. The righteous are made so by giving up their rights. Grace and mercy are more powerful than justice.

Jesus was the ultimate example of this:

“Though he was God,[a]
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges
he took the humble position of a slave[c]
and was born as a human being. (Philippians 2:6-7)

We all have people in our lives that deserve punishment for what they did to us. We were wronged, lied to and taken advantage of. Even when he thought Mary sinned against him, Joseph was ready to settle the matter quietly. Perhaps Joseph is a great example for us at Christmas about true godliness. Is there someone in your life that you can gift the gift of giving up your rights and ‘settling matters quietly?’