Practicing the Better: Joseph

Light, life, and love were incarnate in Joseph just as they were in Mary.  The phrase that reveals it is Matthew’s description of him as a righteous man (1:19).  Inwardly and outwardly, he was a man of integrity.  Our practice of the better (our conduct) is always rooted in the soil of our character.  Joseph personified it.

We have none of his words to use in describing his instruction about light, life, and love.  Joseph taught these things in his actions, summarized in his willingness to believe the unbelievable, and act accordingly.  Joseph practiced the better with his non-judgmental maintenance of his relationship with Mary.

As the story of Joseph clearly shows, his practice of the better arose from a deep attentiveness to God–an attentiveness which was surely stronger than what his natural mind and emotions would have counseled him to do.  He followed the guidance of his dreams, married Mary, and accepted his call to be the human father of the Son of God. Joseph accepted his own set of risks risks and put his reputation on the line, just as Mary did. He is a reminder that in the practice of the better, there are times when actions speak louder than words.

Together, Mary and Joseph loved and cared for Jesus, establishing the home where he grew (Luke 2:39-40), reminding us in their life together that there is no finer practice of the better than to be good parents.  

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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