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The Art of Manliness

A few months ago in a casual conversation with a friend, I was directed to a web site called "the art of manliness". You can check it out at http://artofmanliness.com

Not a site necessarily directed to Christ, it is nevertheless filled with material, stories, and articles for men. What I like about it is that it has a moral foundation, and a gentlemen's approach to being a man...something I think that is largely missing in today's world.

My meditation this morning is on a man...Joseph. Luke shares very little about him in the days leading up to Christ Jesus' birth, but Matthew gives us a lot to think about. In Matthew 1:18-19 (NRSV), it says...
18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.


I can't help but be impressed with Joseph the man. He is called "righteous"... something most men would shy away from as a label today. It implies "self-righteous" as in someone who is egotistical, arrogant, proud.

The word that is used for righteous in the text means "innocent, correct, does that which is right, seeks justice". In otherwords, Joseph wasn't arrogantly religious...better than others...he was humble. He was more than a "man of faith", he was "faithful" to God. He had gone along in life doing the right things - honest, caring, obeying the law, attending the synagogue, and correctly going about the engagement period to a young woman named Mary.

Joseph obeyed the Torah, he obeyed the Word of God.

Mystery entered in when Mary got pregnant. She explains, but it sounds so unreal. "How could it be?", "Why God, would you do this?", "How will I explain this to anyone without being dismissed?", and on and on it would go.

Joseph had to wrestle with his sense of "correct obedience" to the law and love for Mary.

I can imagine his feelings.
I can imagine how he is being pulled.

The scripture says he does the "righteous", which is also the compassionate thing - "divorce, quietly".

I see him coming to a reluctant kind of resolve -- "What happened is wrong, she is pregnant and regardless of what she says, I am not the father - someone else is. I will go quietly to the priest."

The change takes place when he wakes us from a dream (v.s.. 20)
What follows for Joseph is an explanation by God through the angel of what is going on.
- Mary is to be his wife.
- The baby inside is not ordinary - specifically He is called "Jesus" = the Greek equivalent of "Joshua" which means "Jehovah saves"
- The baby is the prophet's promise for the Messiah - Note v.s. 23, a quote from Isaiah 7:14, and so that we don't have to wonder, "Emmanuel, which means 'God with us'."
That is a very Mysterious thing! It seems preposterous!

Imagine guys, whether married or unmarried, whether single and engaged or not even dating.

Put yourself in Joseph's shoes...
It is "Mystery" that Mary offers Joseph as an explanation!
Do we believe Mystery? Do we accept the unacceptable? Do we allow room in our lives for the presence of God to come in when it appears so "Irrational, so impossible" an explanation?

If we men want a model of "the art of manliness", we need not look any further than this man Joseph. Would that men today we care that much about God and others as Joseph did.

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