Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. (Matthew 1:18-19).
Christmas is soon here with us and as is common knowledge, Christmas is celebrated to signify the birth of Jesus. It is a season of love―God’s love. Jesus is God’s greatest expression of love towards humanity and Jesus is God’s greatest gift to humanity.
Love then is the greatest gift to give because Love gives and Love is generous. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). Christmas is also a season of forgiveness because love forgives. The reason for which Christ was born, as recorded by Matthewhe was that he “will save his people from their sins.” (v.21). God loves us. The sins of those who come to faith in Christ are forgiven because love covers a multitude of sins. “… [Love] shall cover the multitude of sins.” (Proverbs 10:12, 1Peter 4:8). Our sins are covered, fully paid for if we believe in Christ and have given our lives to Him.
Now, though the Christmas story—a true historical event― is about the birth of Jesus, the events leading to Christ’s birth also has great lessons for forgiveness and respect of one another. Here is how the story unfolded:
Mary was engaged to Joseph. And before the final ceremony for the consummation of the marriage, it was discovered Mary was pregnant. Reality check will certainly set in. As human as he was, Joseph will feel disappointed, betrayed, cheated, lied to: just attempt to imagine all the negative emotions that will swell up within Joseph. Naturally, it is to be expected that Joseph would not proceed with the marriage. Of course he wasn’t responsible for the pregnancy; why would he proceed with it anyway? So he made up his mind he was going to call off the whole marriage. See v. 19 again. “And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly”
Joseph was contemplating divorce. But, and this is where love and forgiveness was displayed. In his contemplation, he was mindful not to disgrace Mary. He was going to deal with the situation in love without openly disgracing Mary. He was going to end it privately to spare Mary any open shame. Here is a great love lesson; in our dealing with others, we must act out of love and not the desire to spite other. It is very likely if any of us found ourselves in Joseph’s shoes, firstly, the whole community will hear about how Mary has been unfaithful. We may proceed to tell how a hypocrite she has been. She carried herself as a virgin and here she was with a pregnancy.
Joseph will not do any of that. He was willing to put off the marriage but not spitefully. Christmas is a season of love and forgiveness. God loved us and he gave us Christ to die to forgive our sin. In like example, let’s love and find a place in our hearts to forgive and not spite people when they wrong us.