What's the right thing to do?
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem. Luke 2:4 (ESV)
As a dad of three kids, I try my best, like most parents, to teach them to do what's right. My goal is to help them become independent of me and dependent upon God. Riley is 10. She makes many decisions on her own. Most of them are in obedience to my instruction. She is motivated to do what's right based on her relationship with me, because she trusts me. At times, she is motivated to obey because she doesn't want to face the consequences of disobedience. All kids are motivated by something.
The truth is we are all children to God. As devout Jew, Joseph would have placed his faith in our loving Heavenly Father. But he had struggles just like you and I do. Joseph had a difficult decision to make. Caesar issued a very inconvenient decree that would require him to go back to his hometown to register for a tax. This presented two problems. First, Nazareth, Joseph’s city, is 90 miles away from Bethlehem, and it's an uphill journey, too. Second, Mary was nine months pregnant! The trip would be dangerous. There were robbers and thieves all along the way. The trip is about the same distance from North Phoenix to Sedona. When you drive north, you see little towns like Bloody Basin, Horse Thief, Camp Verde, and more, all of which have a wild story to them. The trip for Joseph and Mary would be an adventure to say the least.
Joseph had a decision to make. Should he stay or go? What would you do? Seriously, don't give me your super spiritual answer? Would you take your nine-months-pregnant wife on a dangerous journey? The question haunted Joseph. What was the right thing to do? As we read in Luke's gospel, Joseph decided to go. Why? Was he afraid of King Herod of Judea, afraid of Caesar Augustus the Emperor of Rome? Or maybe, he was actually motivated by love. Maybe he loved God's Word and loved God himself enough to trust him. We have no direct account of God telling Joseph to go, but we do have the Prophet Micah's word that this child was to be born in Bethlehem! God's Word was likely in the forefront of Joseph's mind. In difficult times, Godly men and women turn to God. His Word and prayer become our counsel and guide. So Joseph did what was right. He fulfilled scripture and obeyed the Roman law.
Apply: Sometimes the decisions we need to make are not clear. It's important to turn to God's Word and prayer. What decision do you need guidance and help with? Take a few minutes to talk to the Lord about it. He is here. He loves you. Let him impress upon your heart and mind his counsel. Look now to God's Word, and see if your decision is in alignment.
Pray: Lord, I want to do what's right. Help me follow your will, even when the road before me is long and difficult. I love you. You are a better friend to me than all others. Thank you for your guidance today. Thank you for your word. Amen.