Joseph: 14 Qualities of a Man of God
Over my last posts I’ve highlighted a few of the incredible character attributes of Joseph, the earthly-father of Jesus. He was truly a heroic man of God and a man who had a faith and character that I want to emulate.
As I studied for this short series I found fourteen characteristics of this man of God. These are neither male nor female—they are just wonderful character qualities to imitate:
Pure. Matthew 1:18 tells us that Joseph and Mary were betrothed—they were engaged, but not living together. They had no sexual relationships before they were married. Joseph lived a pure life and it was rewarded (Matthew 5:8) beyond his wildest dreams.
Mercy. Initially, Joseph doesn’t believe Mary’s story, but his love for her didn’t allow the heartbreak and betrayal he was feeling to influence his attitude toward her or God. While he could have quietly divorced her (Deuteronomy 24), instead he brings mercy to the situation.
Gracious. Joseph makes no public example of Mary. He chooses to work on things in secret. His actions are full of grace toward his soon-to-be wife.
Thoughtful. When we read Matthew 1:20–25 we discover that Joseph was meditative and not quick tempered, impetuous, or hasty. He realized that the Lord gives is an abundance of sound wisdom and secret counsel to a thoughtful person. Joseph teaches us to slow down and think before we execute, especially when we are in the middle of highly emotional situations.
Dreamer. Joseph shows us, in Matthew 2:13–14 and 19–23 that we need to pay attention to how God might be speaking to us, even when if it’s in a supernatural way. At those times, God is trying to open our ears, seal our instruction, save us from the pit or from perishing by the sword. We need to pay attention. We need to learn from Joseph and change our thinking from “that’s not God” to “is that You God?
Courageous. In the first dream (Matthew 1:20–25), the angel tells Joseph, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” Why should he be afraid? Deuteronomy 22 goes into great detail about the possible stoning they both could be subjected to for Mary’s pregnancy. Joseph takes a stand and so should we when we know we’re standing on God’s promises.
Believer. In Matthew 1:20–21 we find that Joseph believed that based on who he is (son of David), that’s it’s actually possible for him to be involved in the birth of the Messiah (The Messiah must come from the lineage of King David). The application for us is that when we really begin believing who we are in Christ, all of the promises, purposes and power of God come together in and through us.
Obedient. Joseph understood that obedience was better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). He obeyed the angels (Matthew 2:14, 21, 22). Joseph obeyed man as long as man’s laws did not conflict with obeying God (Luke 2:1–5). As Christians, we must imitate Joseph and be obedient to the laws of men, whether we like them or not, and as long as they don’t violate God’s laws.
Humble. When we read Luke 2:6–7 we find a humble man. A stable, swaddling cloths and seeing the child in a manger (literally a feeding trough) wasn’t beneath him. Joseph was a just man who walked in mercy and humility (Micah 6:8). We need to do the same thing—love mercy enough to give it away and walk humbly because of mercy.
Un-entitled. There is never a mention, in Scripture, of “who he is.” He doesn’t brag about what “God told him to do.” He doesn’t ride on the wave that his wife is carrying the Messiah. There simply isn’t anything mentioned about what he should be entitled to so his own circumstances could be improved.
Marveller. Joseph was filled with admiration and awe toward God. He never loses his sense of “wow,” even after many supernatural experiences. When we fast-forward twelve years (Luke 2:48) we still find that he (and Mary) are “amazed.”
Worshipper. Joseph went to worship at Passover, every year, and stayed the prescribed time. He didn’t cut corners, hold back or stay home (Luke 2:41). He was all-in for God and all-in as a man of God.
Human. In the midst of super-human behavior, we see that he is still human (Luke 2:43–44). Joseph didn’t know where Jesus was, and made an assumption about where He was. Joseph lost Jesus, for a day before he realized it and he took three more days to find Him. Joseph’s story gives us tremendous hope about all we can become, even in the midst of our human imperfection.
Joseph was a man who was pure, merciful, gracious, thoughtful, spiritual, courageous, believing, obedient, humble, un-entitled, marveller, worshiper and human. Can you commit to improving yourself in one or two of his attributes? Is there someone who you could study or pray with to help you better understand and live out these attributes?