Every man is like Joseph in more ways than we can imagine. Ordinary or not, your life is about to change. This is what I call the Joseph Principle. When you come to understand this principle, you willbe required to repent of your sins. But it isn’t only the obvious sins of lying, cheating, and stealing that you need to repent of. Sometimes you need to repent of more subtle sins, things that aren’t obviously bad, things that sometimes seem to be good.
Just an Ordinary Joe
Once you understand the Joseph Principle you will have to repent of being too convinced that you are just and ordinary man and have no particularly important part to play in God’s plan for creation.
Joseph was an ordinary guy, from an ordinary family, living in an ordinary town, with an ordinary job. And God chose Joseph to be the earthly father to his Son. God chose Joseph to be provider and protector, teacher and guide for Jesus as he was growing up. God chose Joseph for a supporting-cast role that was tremendously important.
Have you ever been convinced that you are too ordinary for God to use in any particularly important purpose? Have you ever doubted the influence that you have on your children or your friends? You never know, your influence might be key in shaping someone for God’s purpose for them. Have you ever reached out to someone in need, someone you didn’t know and you never saw again, and then doubted that it really made any difference in the long run? You never know, that one conversation, that one experience of compassion from a stranger might turn out to be a turning point in that person’s personal journey. Or, it might turn out to be a turning point in yours.
Plan it out
Once you get the Joseph Principle, you will have to repent of being too convinced that you are just an ordinary man and have no particularly important part to play in God’s plan for creation. And then you will have to repent of having your life too well-planned. Planning is a good thing. Goal-setting is a good thing. But if our own plans begin to stand in the way of God’s plans for us, then we have begun to move from prudence and responsibility to idolatry.
Joseph was in the midst of planning for the future he expected when God confronted him with a future he did not expect. Joseph’s plans had to be laid aside. Long-term planning gave way to living year-by-year, day-by-day according to God’s grace and guidance, never quite knowing what danger to his family might come next.
Yes, sometimes you will have to repent of having your life too well-planned.
We have always done it like this!
When you understand the Joseph Principle, you will be confronted with the surprising actions of God. And when that happens, you will have to repent of doing things the way they have always been done and thinking that faithfulness to God and family is always obvious.
You see, when Joseph found out that the woman betrothed to him was expecting a child, Joseph knew the right thing to do. He was a righteous man, after all, and a kind one. He knew that the right thing to do was to divorce Mary, and to do it quietly so that he might not add to the attention and shame that she was already experiencing. Joseph knew the law. Surely this was the right thing to do to be faithful to his God and to his family.
The Right Thing to Do
Once you get the Joseph Principle you will have to repent of being too careful in being proper and thinking that gaining the respect of your peers is always a natural consequence of faithfulness to God.
Again, Joseph knew the right thing to do, the proper thing to do, the thing which would maintain his good standing in the eyes of his community. But Joseph was wrong. In this case, it turned out that faithfulness to God required Joseph to violate the customs of his culture. In this case, faithfulness to God required acting against conventional propriety and risking the loss of the respect of his peers.
I Don’t Think So!Finally, when you get the Joseph Principle, you will have to repent of having perfectly reasonable expectations that are too low.
Joseph didn’t expect anything particularly out of the ordinary to happen in his life. He was familiar with the circumstances of his life. It was perfectly reasonable for him to expect to get married, settle down, have children, work hard in his craft, and grow old in the same town in which he grew up. It is likely that that is what his father did, and his father before him, and his father before him. Perfectly reasonable.
But God had other plans. Plans which were utterly unimaginable and beyond any reasonable expectation. God had plans that were downright impossible! Plans that called for a small-town carpenter to leave everything he had ever known to care for and protect a newborn baby with an earth-shattering mission.
Sometimes we have to repent of perfectly reasonable expectations that are too low.
Praise to the God who is able to do far more than all we can ask or imagine. Amen.
Now go, and be a man!
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