There was a man who was given a great responsibility to help rear and train up God’s only Son and our Savior, Jesus.
His name was Joseph. He is described as a just man (Matthew 1:19). He was engaged and he respected his fiancée. He made the choice to wait until his wedding day, but while they were engaged, he found out that his soon-to-be wife was pregnant – with Someone else’s child. I’m sure he was hurt and disappointed by the news, but he didn’t embarrass or humiliate Mary. He didn’t publicly disgrace her. I believe he was afraid what other people would say or think of him (as they weren’t married yet), but he was also concerned about Mary – how she felt and how she would be treated.
Joseph had planned on calling off the engagement quietly, but God had a plan, too. Joseph was about to walk away from favor and from his ‘good thing’. He was about to give up before he received his deliverance, but before he could do anything, God sent an angel to Joseph. Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:20).
Joseph obeyed the angel. He didn’t push Mary away. He protected her. He endured the difficult times (with her). He didn’t leave her when she needed him. He didn’t allow her to have this baby alone in a stable. Not only did they go through some things while Mary was pregnant, but they also had to go through some things after Jesus was born. God gave Joseph and Mary what He promised, but it was a fight to keep, guard and protect the promise. Joseph couldn’t be lazy. He couldn’t procrastinate. He couldn’t do what God told him to do when he wanted to do it. He had to pick up his family and flee to Egypt during the night – when it was inconvenient, when others were sleeping – because Herod wanted to kill the One who would give life to many. When God told him to move, he moved (Matthew 2:13, 19).
Although the bible doesn’t tell us all that Joseph went through, I know it wasn’t easy. In fact, I’m sure he cried or wanted to cry sometimes, but he held on because he believed what God said. He believed that Jesus was born to save all men.
He cared for his wife, but he also cared for Jesus. Do you remember when Joseph and his family went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover? Jesus was twelve years old at the time. When they left the celebration, they didn’t realize that Jesus wasn’t with them. They turned back around to Jerusalem and after three days, they found him in a temple, hearing and asking the doctors questions. When they couldn’t find Jesus, this not only affected Mary, but it affected Joseph, too. His mother said to him, Son, why have you done this to us. Your father and I have sought you sorrowing (Luke 2:48). If Joseph could care for a child who was not his biological son, surely God can send a man to a single mother who will care for her children like they are his own.
God gives some the gift of a husband or wife, and others he gives the gift of being able to stay happily unmarried (1 Corinthians 7:7, TLB).
According to the above scripture, to be married is a gift, but to be ‘happily unmarried’ is also a gift. If God gives you a husband or a wife, He doesn’t want you to treat this gift as we would a toy or a new car. After a certain number of years, some of us want something new or something better, but God doesn’t want us to treat people the way we treat things. He wants us to value what He gives us because what He gives us doesn’t lose value.
This makes me think about the prodigal son. His older brother said he was living with prostitutes (Luke 15:30). When the prodigal son returned home, he told his father he wasn’t worthy to be called his son (Luke 15:19), but what he didn’t realize was the moment he humbled himself and repented to his father for what he had done, everything was restored back to him. And guess what? He was still his father’s son. His father hadn’t changed his mind about him. The reason why the prodigal son was doing the things he did with his body was because he didn’t understand his value, but the good news is he never lost his value. And he didn’t lose his position either (Luke 15:22). He just left it.
He that is unmarried cares for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32).
The above scripture tells us what we should be doing while we’re single. Are we faithful to God in this area of our lives? What are we doing with this gift (of being unmarried)? Or maybe we don’t see it as a gift. Are we happily unmarried or are we only happy when we have someone?
Joseph was a good man, a good husband and a good father. He was the type of man that most women would desire to marry. To those ladies who God has promised a husband, there is a ‘Joseph’ for you, but why would God give us (I’m including myself) a ‘Joseph’ if we’re not willing to become a ‘Mary’? Have you ever thought that what you’re expecting from your future husband is what God expects from us, His bride? It was just as important for Mary to be obedient as it was for Joseph to be obedient. Ladies, there is nothing wrong with having standards, but it’s not right to desire for a man to be to you what you fail to be or become for God.
Mary didn’t allow herself to be used by different men, but she offered her body to be used by God. She may have not understood everything Gabriel told her and we know she was afraid (Luke 1:30), but she obeyed. She didn’t resist God. She didn’t fight God. She submitted to Him. Be it unto me according to your word (Luke 1:38). For some of us, that’s been the problem. We’ve been saying yes to what we should be saying no to, and saying no to what we should be saying yes to.
I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’ve gotten involved in relationships that I should have never been in, but so have some of you. I also know that just like the prodigal son’s brother, the enemy will condemn us, remind us of all the things we’ve done wrong and try to make us feel not worthy to be married or remarried again, but God is not looking at what you did then. He is looking at what you’re doing now.
Well, how much longer do I have to wait? I’m not getting any younger. Maybe you’re not waiting on your husband. Maybe your husband is waiting on you. James 5:7 speaks of the farmer who is patient. The reason why he is patient is because he believes that what he’s waiting for is ‘precious’.
Just in case you’ve forgotten, I just want to remind someone today that no matter what you’ve done in the past and no matter how many men have touched you,
You are still precious.
You haven’t lost your value.
And you are worth waiting for.
faithful: trustworthy, reliable, consistent, not changing in behavior or attitude, believing
Joseph’s brothers hated him so much that they considered killing him. What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood? (Genesis 37:26). They decided instead to sell him to the Ishmeelites and the Ishmeelites then sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.
Despite what happened to Joseph, he served well in Potiphar’s house. Potiphar saw that the Lord was with him and he later made Joseph overseer of his house. Things were going well until Potiphar’s wife accused him of attempted rape. Potiphar then put Joseph in prison.
While in prison, the keeper of the prison placed all the prisoners under Joseph’s supervision. When Pharaoh threw his butler and baker in prison, the captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph and he served them also (Genesis 40:4). One morning, Joseph noticed that the butler and baker were sad (Genesis 40:6). They both had a dream, but they didn’t understand it. Joseph didn’t withhold his gift. He interpreted their dreams. The baker was going to be hung on a tree, but the butler would be restored to his position in three days. Joseph told the butler that once his dream came to pass, not to forget about him.
But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon (Genesis 40:14-15). But the butler forgot about him (Genesis 40:23).
Even though Joseph was ready for that season of his life to be over, it wasn’t time yet. He had to stay in prison just a little while longer. He had to be patient and patience isn’t always about waiting. Patience is more about what you are doing while you are waiting. Some of us are just like Joseph. We wish God would hurry up. We think we are ready to receive what God has promised, but God is watching your faithfulness. God is watching what you do with the little. Maybe the reason why you’re still where you are now is because you aren’t ready for what’s next.
Things didn’t always go the way Joseph liked, but he remained faithful in every season – in his father’s house, in the pit, in Potiphar’s house, and in jail. Joseph had every reason to be angry, bitter and disappointed, but his attitude remained the same. What Joseph went through should have hardened his heart, but he wasn’t like Naomi. He didn’t allow circumstances and hard times to change him or his name. He didn’t allow what was sweet to turn bitter. He didn’t send anyone away or isolate himself from others. He worked – consistently – as unto the Lord, not unto man. He kept giving. He kept sowing seed, not knowing which seed was going to produce.
And one day, the gift that he gave sometime ago opened doors and brought him before a great man. He was then made ruler over Pharaoh’s house, his substance and all the land of Egypt. He would also discipline Pharaoh’s princes if needed and teach the elders wisdom (Psalm 105:22).
Everything he went through brought him to this season. During the waiting period, Joseph proved to be reliable and trustworthy. He served when it was comfortable (home). He served when it was uncomfortable (jail). Before he became ruler over others, he learned how to submit to those who had rule over him.
Beautiful story, right? But the story doesn’t end there. Remember, his dream hadn’t come to pass yet (Genesis 37:6-10).
A famine came and it was all over the face of the earth. This is why Joseph was sent (Psalm 105:17). All countries had to go to Egypt to buy corn. Jacob sent his sons (Joseph’s brothers) to buy corn because of the famine. When his brothers came before him, they bowed before him. Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them (Genesis 42:9).
When Joseph’s brothers saw him, they didn’t even recognize him (Genesis 42:8). I don’t believe it was because his looks changed. I think it was because he changed. Joseph had a lot of growing up to do (and so do I). I can only imagine how Joseph felt walking around with a coat that no one else had, but he was stripped of pride and anything that shouldn’t have been in his heart or mind. God wants to transform us in such a way that people can no longer see us, but they see Him. Pharaoh didn’t even serve Joseph’s God, but he recognized Him. Do you remember when Pharaoh needed someone to interpret his dreams? He called his magicians and wise men, but they couldn’t help him. He saw the distinction between them and Joseph. Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit in him? (Genesis 41:38).
We think that the dream is beautiful, but there is beauty in what God is doing in us right now. When God completed His work, Joseph wasn’t full of pride, hate, anger or bitterness. In fact, when his brothers gave him money for corn, not only did he return it, but he gave them more than what they had. When Joseph’s brothers threw him in an empty pit, they sat down and ate a meal. Joseph didn’t even have water in the pit, but he didn’t treat them the way they treated him. He opened his home to them. He gave them water to drink. He gave them bread to eat. He washed their feet. He even fed their donkeys.
And he did all of this without an apology. It’s easy to help someone who has helped you, but can you help someone who has hurt you? Joseph couldn’t do it on his own, but he trusted God to do it through him. I’m amazed at Joseph’s forgiveness towards his brothers, but I’m even more amazed at his faithfulness towards God.
You may be on a job that you don’t like, but be faithful. If God gave you a spouse, be faithful. Maybe God told you that he was going to send help to the ministry, but it seems like more people are leaving than coming. Be faithful.
When I was younger, I sang on the youth choir every third Sunday. On the days I sang, I attended church twice – 7:00 and 11:00 a.m. I remember one morning after church, the late Reverend Johnson shook my hand and called me ‘faithful’. I didn’t understand it at the time, but the reason why he said this was because it didn’t matter who sang or who didn’t sing. I showed up. He knew that most young people like to stay in bed late on Sunday mornings, but I got up early even when I didn’t feel like it.
In the last ten years, I’ve quit things when it didn’t seem like it was working or it didn’t seem like it would get better or it just didn’t feel good. I just didn’t give it time and you must give things time to grow, but I wanted God to do it now. I realize now that I was only thinking about myself. I wasn’t thinking about my family or the people that would need what I have. I knew what I wanted, but I never thought about what God wanted.
Many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). You are the Joseph of your family. You were chosen. Let God discipline, chastise and correct you now in private before He reveals you in public. Let Him change you. Let Him make you. Let Him do to you what the potter does to the clay.
I’ve been called faithful before and I want to be called faithful again.
Well done, good and faithful servant! (Matthew 25:21, 23)