Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 10, 2017


Give Joseph a little attention this Christmas


            Once again Christmas is center stage. Manger scenes featuring the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, sheep and shepherds will be everywhere. While Christmas, for Christians, is all about Jesus, Mary will receive the praise which she deserves. But poor Joseph will be hardly noticed.

            So let me encourage you to give a little attention to Joseph. His response to divine directions makes him a splendid role model for men. He was a good man who trusted God and did what he was told to do.

            Joseph received his instructions from an angel in a dream. A lesser man might have ignored the advice. Joseph did not. He obeyed the angel, putting aside his own plan to end his commitment to Mary. Instead he brought her into his home and cared for her until Jesus was born.

            Pride causes all of us to prefer our own plans. We know what is best. We need no advice, not even counsel from God. We wince when God says, “Do it my way.” Joseph did not. He trusted God.

            We could hardly expect Joseph to comprehend how this baby would “save his people from their sins.” Nevertheless, he names the baby Jesus as instructed. None of us ever understands all that God is doing in the events of our lives. God does not require that we understand. He does require that we respond as Joseph did, in faithful obedience. Joseph was an ordinary man called into God’s service. And God still calls and uses ordinary men who will do what he asks even when they do not fully understand God’s plan.

            The flight into Egypt is another example of how Joseph complies with God’s plan. Again, an angel gives Joseph directions in a dream. Joseph must act quickly to save Jesus from death at the hands of wicked Herod the Great. Losing no time, Joseph leaves in the night and escorts his little family to safety in Egypt.

            Later Joseph is again instructed by the angel to take Mary and Jesus into Israel. Those who wished to kill Jesus are now dead. So Joseph carries out his orders, taking Mary and Jesus to his home in Nazareth.

            We know little about the childhood of Jesus. But it is safe to say that Joseph and Mary taught Jesus, and their other children, the Holy Scriptures. In that home they were taught to pray, to love one another and to love God.

            Skilled carpentry requires patience. Surely Jesus learned the art of patience while growing up in the home of a carpenter. No doubt Jesus assisted Joseph in constructing the furniture in their humble home and in making fine yokes that were used to work oxen in Nazareth.

            Joseph was not a prominent man. That he was an ordinary man should remind us that God chooses common people to do his will. He calls people in different ways. He used an angel to get Joseph’s attention but he can reach a person’s heart by a thousand stairways. When he speaks, we should be careful to listen and obey.

What God asks will usually be little tasks, not impressive assignments. We need not wait until we “fully understand.” Mother Teresa said it best, “We cannot all do great things but we can all do small things with great love.” When we do, not caring who receives the credit, God’s work is done in God’s way to God’s glory.

            God used Joseph to help the world see Jesus. God can use our quiet, humble deeds of love and mercy to show Jesus to our world. People can “see” Jesus in our ordinary, everyday lives, when we do our best to follow the directions God has given us for living.

            Sherrill Morrison was a fellow like Joseph. He was not a prominent man; he drove a truck for a living. He was not a key leader, just an ordinary man. But on Sundays he stood in his church with a smile on his face and made people feel welcome. He made every person he met glad they had come to church. God used Sherrill to help people see Jesus.

            No task is small in the eyes of God. No duty God assigns is insignificant. In the grand scheme of things, God will take the faithfulness of ordinary believers and weave it into a beautiful tapestry.

            So take a good look at Joseph this Christmas. If you follow his example, your obedience in the smallest of assignments could become one small thread in the magnificent needlepoint being created by the skillful hands of your heavenly Father. + + +