Have you ever found out something about another person that was disturbing to you and was potentially (if not certainly) destructive to that person? What did you do with that piece of information? Would it matter if that person was someone you cared about or if that person was someone you didn’t really like?
In our day and age, it is so common and rather easy for us to hear or to read something about another person that the person would probably not want for others to know. What should be our response when such private knowledge comes into our possession? It would be so easy to pass it along. It would be so easy to use that information against that person. It would be so easy to use that knowledge to our own advantage. What is the proper response of a child of God? What would you do?
In the first chapter of the New Testament, we are introduced to a “just man” (Matt. 1:19), indicating that he was a man who was upright and fair in his dealings with others. This just man was the individual that the God of heaven selected to be the earthly father of and early influence in the life of Jesus. This man discovered that the woman to whom he was betrothed was pregnant with a child that was not his.
What did Joseph do with that information? Do you believe he was hurt? Could he have used that new-found knowledge to hurt Mary? His first inclination was to “put her away”—which was his right to do, as one who had been wronged. And notice, it was not his intent to make a public spectacle of her or to draw negative or hurtful attention to her. He was minded to put her away “secretly” or “quietly.”
That was his first plan. Even in this first purpose, he took her best interest into consideration. But the next verse says that he did not just run with his first inclination. Instead, he “thought about these things” (1:20). Think about that for a moment.
Joseph did not “take up” this juicy reproach and share it with others (Psa. 15:3). He did not tell his friends about it (Prov. 17:9). He did not look for a way to hurt Mary in any way!
Instead, Joseph “thought about these things.” He stopped. He waited. Perhaps (and most likely) he prayed. He kept it to himself. He practiced agape love (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
What a tremendous example for us, when we find ourselves in a similar situation! Rather than take some sensitive information about someone and broadcast it, we need to stop. We need to wait. We need to pray. We need to keep it to ourselves. We need to practice agape love. We, like Joseph, need to think before we act.