December 23, 2015

Matthew 1:24-25 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

It’s interesting that I’ve seen several messages/devotions this year that focus on Joseph. It’s certainly true that he tends to get the least attention of the figures in the Christmas Story, even less than the shepherds or even Herod. However, he had to have been a pretty remarkable man, considering that God chose him to raise His Son. He certainly demonstrates a very high level of faith and obedience in the little we know about him. He not only swallowed his pride and accepted a pregnant bride, dealing with all the social issues involved, he also did not claim his conjugal rights until after the baby was born. Catholic tradition notwithstanding, there is no reason to think that the various siblings of Jesus that are mentioned in Mark 6:3 were other than the natural children of Joseph and Mary, but all of that was on hold until after Jesus was born. Joseph was a man who placed obedience to God before everything else. His gentleness and tenderness toward Mary are evident, and he had to have been an exemplary father to all of Mary’s children, Jesus included. In today’s world where accurate fatherhood is in such short supply, we need to pay attention to Joseph and follow his example.

I was blessed with a very good father, but certainly not better than I’m sure Joseph was. I have tried to be a good father to my children, but I’m not the best judge of how I’ve done in that department. As a pastor I not only deal with parenting issues in others, I am also a spiritual father to many. The challenges are at times immense! I don’t have the same parameters, particularly in the area of discipline, as I would with biological children, and I am not with them as constantly as I was with my biological children, but otherwise, practically everything else is a pretty close parallel. I can no more guarantee that all will turn out well than a physical parent can, and I’ve got to be at peace with that, yielding it all to God. Paul dealt with that issue all the time, with spiritual children scattered all over the Mediterranean area. Like him, I’m to pray for my spiritual children but at the same time release them to God, recognizing and accepting my own limitations while remembering that God has no such limitations. Just as He guarded and guided me through my often erratic path, He can and will guard and guide them, for their blessing and His glory.

Father, it’s often difficult to release my spiritual children to You. Help me do so, with expectant faith and vibrant trust, so that I may not get in the way of what You are doing in their lives, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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