Read: Matthew 1:18-25
Fear comes in many forms. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom but the fear of people is the beginning of confusion, insecurity and disobedience. Joseph’s concern for what people might say and do left him with few alternatives. He could expose Mary in a public divorce trial for her apparent unfaithfulness or divorce her privately before two witnesses. He chose the later. He was unwilling to put her to shame. We can read between these lines a great deal of emotional trauma for both Joseph and Mary. Joseph cannot accept Mary in marriage but he is unwilling to hurt her publicly. Strange, isn’t it, that God lets Joseph wrestle through all of this before the angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream.
The fear of man is a strong, controlling influence in most people’s lives. In the case of Joseph it is the fear of moral man; man under the law of God. He cannot reconcile Mary’s pregnancy with moral decorum. When your wife-to-be shows up pregnant something is wrong somewhere in spite of what she may say. Consider the irony of it all. God’s great miracle for mankind, the Incarnate One, is mistaken as illegitimate.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, overcoming the fear of what others will think is one of the hardest things for me. My choices are not always between good and evil but between Your good and other people’s good. Lord, help me when obedience to You looks like disobedience to others. Amen.