I realize that with the legalization of Marijuana in many states, it would be easy to interpret my question in the wrong way. The old saying “taking the high road” speaks to being a person of integrity. It refers to doing the right thing even when it is not popular, not easy or costly. The low road on the other hand speaks of taking the easy way out or what benefits me. We should not be surprised that Jesus calls his followers to take the high road!
This past Sunday we reflected on Joseph, Jesus’ step-father, as a man of integrity. He may be the least appreciated person in the Biblical account. If we overlook him we miss some powerful lessons on integrity. The few insights that we have on Joseph paint an outstanding picture of integrity. We often think of the privilege of Mary, being Jesus’ mother. We also need to consider the privilege for Joseph to be His earthly father.
Our recent in-depth study of the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth has reminded me that while God can use anyone, He uses Godly people. We read this about Joseph, “And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1:19) It is through a simple sentence that we learn that Joseph was a spiritual giant. Let me highlight a few insights that challenge me.
First, he had control of his emotions. We, as men, can make excuses for our anger (and yes, the ladies are not exempt either). If anyone was justified in blowing his top, it would be Joseph. The apple of his eye is found to be pregnant and an excuse that God is the baby’s father! The Bible reminds us that Joseph demonstrated godly character. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23) He is an example to all of us of the need to keep our emotions in check. This is difficult to do in a culture that worships at the altar of emotion. The pressure cooker situations in our lives reveal our true character. Our character is not only revealed in those difficult times, but it is also forged through the fires of difficulty.
Second, his kind of response just does not happen. It reflects time invested in developing a godly mindset and self-control. I am sure that this training began in his home and carried on in his community of faith. Yet as some point he would need to make his parents faith his own. Genuine godliness cannot be forged. It is the result of a process of aligning our thinking and choices with God’s desires for our lives. There are also no shortcuts. Joseph’s response reminds us of an investment made over time. Jesus could have described his step-dad as “a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.” (Luke 6:48) The Bible is silent on the specifics of Joseph’s life, but I am sure that Jesus had a “dad” that lived out his faith in real time!
And last, I marvel at Joseph’s self-control. We read, “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20) Joseph controlled his emotions. But what is more important is He took time to bring this before God. I know that the text does not state this, but I cannot imagine a godly man not bringing this before God. And as God often does, he speaks to us. He spoke to Joseph by an angel in a dream while he speaks to us through the Word and the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Joseph, like us had a choice, and he took the high road. How about you?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson