Devotional Passage: Matthew 1:24-25
Obedience is an interesting concept. It gets a bum rap. Just saying the word — “obedience” — kind of makes you shiver, doesn’t it? Thinking about obeying brings to mind your mom telling you to take out the trash or clean your room. It recalls images of life in the slow lane, holding up traffic, driving the exact speed limit. There’s a part of us – part cultural, part spiritual – that rebels at the notion of obeying the rules. (Think of this the next time you sneak candy into a movie theatre.)
And yet, obedience is firmly entrenched as a central part of what it means to be a Christ-follower. Jesus said in John 14, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me . . . Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” That’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it?
So what does all this talk about obedience have to do with the Christmas story? Plenty. Read Matthew 1:24-25. We’re wrapping up our three-day focus on Joseph’s role in Jesus’ birth story. This is the third snapshot we’ve studied. Joseph had decided to divorce Mary because of her pregnancy. Then, the angel encourages him not to do so, telling Joseph that the baby really is God’s Son. But before we move on, let’s pause here for a moment.
It’s easy to breeze past “moments” in Scripture. Time is condensed. We don’t always get a ton of details about what a person is feeling. If we’re not careful, it’s easy to act is if Joseph were a robot, not a real human being. But at that moment, when the angel had wrapped up his speech to Joseph, Joseph had a choice. A real choice. He could either obey God’s will that he should marry Mary or he could disobey. We should recognize this choice, as it’s one we make every day.
Joseph, the human being, made an amazing choice. He demonstrated his love for God by obeying: “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” Think of all that Joseph got to experience because he obeyed God! Think of how rich his life was as a result. If we believe in God, we must believe that what He has for us is awesome. Disobedience robs us from experiencing a full relationship with God. Joseph somehow understood this. And his faithfulness allowed him to be an awesome part of the greatest story ever told.
Think about this:
• In your own words, what can we learn from Joseph’s example?
• Our obedience is motivated by our love for God. Grab a piece of paper, or a note-taking app, and write down three reasons why you love God. Then thank Him in prayer for loving you.