“So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.” (Matthew 1:19, HCSB)
One sentence from a devotional has stayed in my thoughts for several days now:
Joseph acted as he did because he was righteous and did not want to make a public example of Mary by denouncing her as an immoral woman.
(from Devotions on the Greek New Testament by J. Scott Duvall & Verlyn D. Vertbrugge, page 15)
The author makes the point that righteousness will cause us to respond, react, and treat others with mercy and compassion.
Righteousness can simply be defined as right living or living in a way which pleases God.
It’s true, Joseph was a good man. He obeyed the law and followed God’s ways. But Joseph had something more – he was a man moved with, and by, the mercy of God.
The devotional continues:
… mercy and compassion are not at odds with righteousness, but are crucial marks of righteousness …
As our lives are changed and transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit, we are changed. Our lives become shaped by the very model set by Jesus Himself.
And our lives will “bear the mark” because righteousness will bear fruit in our lives.
“May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Christ Jesus – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” (Philippians 1:11, NLT)
Character, righteous character, will not be produced in us by our self efforts. It will only be produced as God, through the work of His Holy Spirit, moves in our hearts and minds to make us more like Jesus. It is a daily work, requiring a daily decision on our part to allow Him access to our hearts.
Jesus lived a life of righteousness,
so that in turn,
our lives would bear fruit.
All to His glory and praise.