“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.”
You have to put yourself in Joseph’s shoes to understand the magnitude of his reaction. He was engaged to Mary and had kept himself pure during their engagement. As far as Joseph was concerned, Mary was also a virgin who had kept herself from immorality. However, the could-have-been fateful news was presented to him from Mary that could have ended their relationship had he not acted properly. When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, it had to be a slap in his face. Not only was she pregnant, but she also said that she was still a virgin and that the Holy Ghost had placed the seed inside of her. This had to be an insult to his intelligence. Any normal man would have been angry with Mary and would have ended the relationship and spread the word that she got pregnant from another man; but, Joseph was not just any man, he was a just man. The verse above shows his reaction to this news before God revealed the truth to him. His actions reveal six things about the character of a just man that every believer needs to embrace.
First, a just man doesn’t look at the past of an individual to destroy them. Joseph was not interested in destroying Mary. He could have easily had her killed in his day, but he wasn’t going to let her “past” become a weapon to destroy her. If you seek long enough, you can always use someone’s past to destroy them. Everyone is a sinner; therefore, everyone has something that could potentially be used against them. Always be careful never to use the past as a weapon to destroy another person; instead, use God’s mercy to restore them.
Second, a just man is willing to save a person’s dignity so that they have a chance of restoration. The just person would rather have the person keep their dignity than they would with having the pleasure to destroy someone. Whenever you find something out about an individual, you would be wise to do your best to allow them to keep their dignity so you can have the opportunity to help them. If you spread the filth of what someone has done, you will never have the opportunity to be God’s tool to restore that individual.
Third, a just man moves slowly with the fallen. Joseph wasn’t a reactor to the news, but he took the time to think about what to do. One of the greatest phrases that describe Joseph’s character is found in verse 20 where it says, “But while he thought on these things…” You will do more to help people if you stop reacting about the bad news you hear about them and instead take the time to think about what God wants you to do. If you take the time by going to the LORD in prayer to ask His mind, you will discover that you will find the right answer to handling the situation.
Fourth, a just man is sure to make their actions about God and not about themselves. Joseph obeyed God when he was told to take Mary to be his wife. You will always find that the just man never makes themselves the issue in circumstances, but they make God’s will the issue of what they should do.
These four character traits that are found in Joseph should be found in every believer. My friend, you will do more to help the cause of Christ if you will let these character traits guide you when you find out troubling news about an individual.