“Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.”
There are going to be times in your life when you are going to have to deal with situations privately that will someday become public. Whether it is you or another who has done something that will become public, how you handle it privately before it becomes public will determine the ability to use the situation for God’s glory. It is imperative that potentially public matters be handled scripturally and properly in private before they become public.
Joseph found himself in the middle of a situation that would soon become public. Mary was found with child before they came together. This was no doubt a shocking situation to Joseph because he knew that he didn’t cause her to be with child. There were no doubt many feelings that he had to deal with, but the Scriptures show his wisdom in dealing privately with a soon-to-be public matter. Let me show you the principles you must follow when you are dealing with potentially public matters.
First, don’t deny what has happened. Joseph didn’t deny that Mary was with child. I know this seems to be obvious, but so many people try to cover sin up and deny that it happened. The worse thing you could do for the individual who has committed the sin is to cover it up. It happened; don’t deny it. The sooner you admit that sin happened, the sooner you can get going down the road of putting the pieces back together. The first step in accepting what happened is the key to the next principles.
Second, expect criticism from the Pharisees. To this day, there are those who deny that Jesus was born of a virgin, but that doesn’t change the fact of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. No matter how you deal with these situations, you are going to have to expect people to criticize. Don’t let their criticism discourage you or cause you to change course in dealing properly with your situation.
Third, restoration not condemnation should be the desired action. I believe one of the reasons Joseph didn’t want to make her a public example is because he wanted her to be used again. You have to understand that when he found out, the angel of the LORD had yet to explain the situation to him. Always make restoration the first desired action when you hear of someone succumbing to sin.
Fourth, move slowly rather than swiftly. Moving slowly gives time to consider how the LORD would want you to handle it. Don’t be a quick mover in these situations. You need to find out what the mind of the LORD is in handling the situation so that restoration can be achieved. Quickly moving only leads to needless mistakes that could have been avoided in the handling of the situation.
Fifth, don’t deny the individual the opportunity to be used again. The goal for anyone is that the LORD can use them again. Always allow their situation to become their story of grace. God’s grace can restore any person if we practice grace and love with the fallen. Be careful about judging the motives of why an individual did something, and instead move on to see how the LORD can use their situation as a story of His grace in their life. Certainly, we are not condoning sin, but we must allow every situation to be something that God can use to show others how His grace can restore.