When the Right Thing is the Difficult Thing
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
Yesterday, as I was driving home from the gym, I witnessed an individual engaging in some unhealthy behaviors. Still sweaty from my workout, I felt confident in my condescending thoughts about this person who was eating, smoking, and talking on a cell phone . . . while driving. I wouldn’t have been wrong if I’d just identified the behavior as destructive, but I didn’t stop there. Like the Pharisee in the temple (Luke 18:9-14), I found myself to be better than this person.
The irony is that it was probably only the smoking that separated us. I ate unhealthy things yesterday. I’ve used my phone while driving. But I’m not a smoker! Never mind that I’ve struggled with drug addiction, I don’t smoke. It’s my nature to look down on those who struggle differently than me.
We all have our own thing. Some of us struggle with being prideful, judgmental, and condescending. Others struggle with lust, pornography, greed, anger, food, drugs, or alcohol. We do well in the areas that aren’t our problems. I may be tempted by greed, but at least I don’t view pornography!
Faith though, is keeping our eyes on Christ, and following him, even when it is difficult. It’s not hard to be obedient in the things with which we don’t wrestle. Faith means bringing our personal struggles to Christ, daily denying ourselves to follow him.
In today’s passage, Joseph faced a difficult choice. Believing his fiancé had been unfaithful, he chose to end things quietly, when God sent an angel to corroborate Mary’s innocence. Only Joseph and Mary knew the truth though. No one else bought the virgin-conception story. Joseph chose to follow God’s will, even when everyone else believed him to be a fool. Joseph was obedient, even though it had to offend his pride. Can you believe Joseph is marrying her, with someone else’s child in her belly?
It’s no accomplishment to do right when wrong isn’t a temptation. The measure of our faith though, is following God in the difficult things. Daily, we must surrender our will for God’s.