I know this may seem silly, but wherever you are, whatever you are doing, say, “GIVE IT UP.” Now say, “GIVE IT UP FOR JESUS!” You may have never heard or done this before OR you may do this quite often. This has a name – REPUTATION! We have to give this up for Jesus in order that He may shine through us. You can’t keep your reputation and still have the miraculous unfold for the next chapters of your life like rushing floodgates.
How about the man that God chose to be Jesus’ earthly father – Joseph. Here is a man that is opposite Mary (he was her fiancée). He sees an angel, marries a pregnant girl, and leads his family to Bethlehem and Egypt. He does much, but says nothing. A small-town carpenter who never said a Scripture-worthy word. Was Joseph the right choice? Doesn’t God have better options? An eloquent priest from Jerusalem or a scholar from the Pharisees? Why Joseph? A major part of the answer lies in his reputation: he gives it up for Jesus. Matthew 1:19 says, “Then Joseph (Mary’s husband), being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.” With the phrase “a just man,” Matthew recognizes the status of Joseph. He was what was called a tsadiq (tsa-deek), a serious student of the Torah. Nazareth viewed Joseph as we might view an elder, deacon, or Bible class teacher. Tsadiqs studied God’s law. They supported the synagogue, observed holy days, and followed the food restrictions. For a common carpenter to be known as a tsadiq was no small thing. Joseph likely took pride in his standing but Mary’s announcement (I’m pregnant) jeopardized it. Mary’s parents, by this point, have a signed a contract and sealed it with a dowry. Mary belongs to Joseph; Joseph belongs to Mary. Legally and matrimonially bound.
Now what? What’s a tsadiq to do? His fiancée is pregnant, blemished, tainted… he is righteous, godly. On one hand, he has the law. On the other, he has his love. The law says stone her; love says forgive her. Joseph is caught in the middle. But Joseph is a kind man. Verse nineteen says, “Not wanting to disgrace her, he planned to send her away secretly.” A quiet divorce was what he planned. How long would it stay quiet? Likely not long. But for a time, this was the solution. THEN comes the angel. “verse 20 says, “While he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
Joseph gave it up for Jesus. He swapped his tsadiq diploma for a pregnant finacee and an illegitimate son and made the big decision of discipleship. He placed God’s plan ahead of his own.
God grants us an uncommon life to the degree we surrender our common one. Matthew 16:25 says, “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will loose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.” Would you forfeit your reputation to see Jesus born into your world?
Jesus himself did the same thing… Phillipians 2:7-8 says He, “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbles Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Christ gave up his reputation. No one in Nazareth saluted him as the Son of God. He did not stand out in his elementary-classroom photograph sitting on a throne, or wearing a crown. His friends knew him as a woodworker, not a star hanger. His looks turned no heads; his position earned him no credit. In the great “lowering of Himself” we call Christmas, Jesus gave up heavenly rank and crawled out among the hay and horse stall of this earth because you and I were worth it! Hard to comprehend – yet a principle that must be duplicated for you to step into the river of your destiny!