Just AND Kind

I was reading the Christmas story in Matthew chapter 1 and I noticed something I had written in the margin. Our pastor must have preached about this sometime in the past 9 years (since I received this Bible), though I don’t remember the message. I only have my pencil-written comment in the margin, but it sure has given me something to chew on today.

Matthew 1:19 says, “Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.”

We know, of course, that Joseph and Mary were betrothed and that the Jewish engagement period of the time was legally binding, requiring a divorce to break it. So, Joseph was not Mary’s husband in the fullest sense of the word, but legally he was more than our version of a finance’. If an engaged girl became pregnant and the groom-to-be knew he wasn’t involved, he certainly could have made an example of her. In Deuteronomy 22, Jewish law stated that a young, engaged woman who was found to not be a virgin was to be stoned to death in the doorway of her father’s house by the men of the city. As a just man, Joseph could have demanded that this be done to Mary when she told him she was pregnant.

Yet Joseph is an example to us of God’s perfect balance of justice and kindness. When all the evidence seemed stacked against Mary and Joseph had his reputation and dignity and pride at stake, he had made up his mind to be kind and merciful to Mary. He was going to put her away secretly. He was not going to have her stoned in her father’s doorway; he wasn’t going to report her to the religious leaders; he wasn’t going to make a public example out of her. His love and compassion would not leave room for that.

The note I wrote in the margin of my Bible simply says,

You don’t have to be nasty to be just. Always incline toward mercy.

What a thought to ponder!

Often, we are nasty, even gloating, in the face of another’s sin. We become high-minded and self-righteous and almost seem to enjoy watching someone else get in trouble or be punished. Especially if someone has hurt us or wronged us, we tend to delight in watching their demise. But, as Joseph shows us, we don’t have to be nasty in order to be just. We can wed justice with kindness.

Always incline toward mercy. Even when doling out punishment to my children, I can do it in a merciful, kind way. When dealing with others, I can lean toward mercy. I can give people the benefit of the doubt —- incline toward mercy.

I can be just and kind. Micah 6:8 tells us to do justly AND love mercy. Joseph lives out that verse in Matthew 1, and we can live it out today — with the power of the Holy Spirit.

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7 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Family, holidays, marriage, motherhood

7 responses to “Just AND Kind

  1. Thanks so much for this. It’s so true. Yesterday at church the pastor was talking about how Christians can sometimes be nasty to others even while in church. A few members of the congregation clapped to acknowledge this truth and one person even shouted a “halellujah.” I couldn’t help but wonder if those people clapping were the rude ones or if they had suffered at the hand of others.

    “Always incline toward mercy.” Thanks for the reminder.

    And thanks again for your post. I always enjoy your writing.

  2. mcalmond

    This is such a great post. We so need to get this, by the mercy and grace of God. We worry so much about the world and what it is doing and going to do to us as believers, however, in spirit and truth all too often we are our won worst enemies.

    So I say yes and amen to your post here and agree with storbakken. Thankyou!

    James 2:13 (ESV) For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

    Romans 2:4 (ESV) Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

    Blessings in Christ Jesus!

  3. mcalmond

    Sorry, I meant, “in spirit and truth all too often we are our own worst enemies.”

    right letters, wrong order 🙂

    So, yet again, Blessings in Christ Jesus!

  4. Thanks, guys, for the comments. I appreciate your feedback and enjoy learning from you.

    mcalmond, you quoted one of my favorite scripture verses — God’s kindness leads us to repentance. I LOVE that idea! And I often think of it throughout the day when dealing with my children — in addition to “The wrath of man (or mom) does not produce the righteousness of God.”

    A contemporary Christian artist sang a song based on that verse (my husband could tell me who it was). The words were directed to God — It’s your kindness that leads us to repentance, O Lord. It’s such a pretty song.

  5. stuartdelony

    very true, I never thought of it in the context of this story – thanks for making the point!

  6. Thanks for teaching me something new about Mary & Joseph’s story! That’s a great lesson!

  7. this was good *smile*
    I really enjoyed this…it is a great lesson…I constantly remind myself of this…and even more so that however I deal with or treat people…I must be mindful that it should be equal to how God deals with and treats me…it proves to be humbling sometimes because it doesn’t provide much room for me to give people what I think they deserve in the way of justice =)…thanks again for this post

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