Matt. 1:18 “This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit”
The first joy killer in our lives during Christmas and beyond is anxiety, and the second is resentment over hurt or bitterness. When Mary told Joseph that she was pregnant, Joseph was hurt because he knew the baby was not for him. So, what did Joseph do when he was hurt? Joseph was hurt, but he chose to offer grace and forgiveness. You need to offer grace and forgiveness. Some of us think it must have been easy for Joseph because an angel visited him and told him the baby was for the Lord. But in my case, I have not seen any angel yet.
However, if you look at that story carefully, the angel did not tell Joseph at the same time he told Mary. In fact, the angel told Joseph after. When I read it, I wondered why God didn’t just tell them together and solve this problem? God told Mary, allowed Mary to tell Joseph, and watched what Joseph would do. God watched how Joseph would respond; so, at that time, Joseph was on trial as it were. It was a test to see what he will do. Matt. 1:19 “Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.” This is a beautiful example of grace. Joseph already offered grace, ‘I forgive you, but we cannot do this, I cannot marry you.’ If he were bitter, he will make a mess of Mary. The laws on ground were very stringent about those kinds of things. Mary would have been stoned, to death. But Joseph offered grace; he let the hurt go. ‘Go your way Mary’.
We see God’s response in Matt. 1:20 “As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” It was after Joseph had decided to offer grace and to forgive that God blessed him. Joseph got blessed because he did not get bitter. Billions of people are losing their blessings to bitterness. God has brought you into His presence for you to hear Him say to you, ‘Let it go!’ Someone hurt you five years ago, that is the best you can do – hurt you five years ago. They do not have the power to hurt you today. But guess what? You allow them to hurt you, again and again, today by being resentful.
I know forgiveness can be tough, but you are not forgiving for their sake, you are forgiving for your sake. Joseph chose to be blessed instead of being bitter. What are you going to choose today? Years ago, a man from Ghana came to see me after one of our midweek services. He said he had a Nigerian neighbour, and while he was away, his Nigerian neighbour went to his house, raped, and killed his wife. Sadly, sometimes Nigerians behave in a crazy way outside the country and even in the country. He had traced the men to the Lekki-Ajah area in Lagos and had come, gun in hand to kill him. He said to me, ‘and you say I should forgive?’ I said, ‘Jesus said you should forgive; not me.’ We prayed, and he left. Joseph chose to offer grace.
Prayer: Father, please help me truly forgive every hurt and offer grace, in Jesus Name. Amen!