Silently, how silently, The wondrous gift is given So God imparts, to human hearts The blessings of His heaven
(O Little Town of Bethlehem – Phillip Brooks)
The words of this, well known, carol greeted the introduction to my time with God this morning. I am one of those people that really enjoys silence. I find, within silence there is space for me to reflect and connect with God. The words of Philip Brooks carol really speak to me.
As I turned to the scriptures this morning, the passage was one that I particularly love, Matthew 1 vs.18 -24. The passage concerns Joseph and the Angel. The Angel informs Joseph that Mary is pregnant by the Holy Spirit and he should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife.
I love this passage because, I find Joseph such a fascinating character. He is the “silent man” of the Gospel story. None of the Gospels record a single word that Joseph said. It is implied, in places, that he said something but neither Matthew, Mark, Luke or John write any of his words down. He may be silent but, Matthew records something that speaks volumes about him;
Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man…
(Matthew 1 vs. 19)
I wonder how Joseph must have felt when he heard that Mary was pregnant, betrayed or angry? But, as Matthew reveals, Joseph’s first thought is how to protect Mary and ensure her safety. In some respects, the fact that Joseph has no recorded words is not important, his character speaks volumes.
As I thought about Joseph, I also reflected on the words of the Angel to him;
Joseph son of David, do not be afraid…
(Matthew 1 vs. 20)
I have come to think of righteousness as “living right before God and before others”. Because Joseph was living rightly before God, and rightly before others, there was nothing for him to fear.
To my way of thinking, a lot of fear arises in us when the enemy finds those little secret things in our lives that we don’t want anybody else to know about. When the enemy finds them, he picks at them and picks at them. Often, our response is to try to bury them deeper. To live right before God means that our lives must be an “open book” before Him and when we do that, there is no fear.
Now, I have got to know myself pretty well over the years – I have had 21 plus VAT years of practice! I know that I have my weak spots, I know that I fail and mess things up more regularly than I care to admit and this has led me on to another stream of reflection. I have been the boundaries that I set in my life.
A boundary serves two functions. Firstly, it keeps in those things that I want in my life like peace, hope and joy. It’s second function is to keep out those things that I don’t want in my life like anger, resentment and negative thinking.
I have come to realise that, if I am to live in right relationship with God and with others then, I have to set the right boundaries. I am beginning to unpack what this means for me but, I wonder what it might mean for you?
Friendly insiders, get along! Hostile outsiders, keep your distance!
(Psalm 122 vs. 7 – The Message)