Living as People of Love

Have you ever been betrayed or deeply hurt by someone you love dearly? Perhaps you are living from that place now. What would God have you do? Find out this week as we encounter the life of Joseph and Mary and learn to live as people of love. 

Living as People of Love  

Mary and Joseph – Luke 1:26-56 / Matt. 1:18-25 

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Dec. 9th, 2018

Intro:

  • The next people we run into from the opening pages of Luke is a girl named Mary and her fiancé Joseph.   They were living in a country town called Nazareth and the angel Gabriel was sent to deliver a message to Mary six months after Elizabeth was impregnated. 

Luke 1:26-33 ESV

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”  29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

  • The collective hope of the people of Israel based upon God’s promise to David of a future king who will reign forever, was to be fulfilled by the Holy Spirit through the womb of Mary to the world.  This was after 400 years of silence from God, where no prophet had spoken God’s word. It was a starting announcement that was given in private to one person, in a small country town.  
  • It was shocking and startling – and it was in accord with the perfect will of God . . . where he takes the unknow and makes Himself known to them.  Mary responded with fear, question, and acceptance to the message of what God had announced to her.  
  • Mary then “arose and went with haste” into the hill country to a town in Judah to the home of her cousins Zachariah and Elizabeth.  John leaped in the womb of his mother when she heard the sound of Mary’s voice and Elizabeth was filed with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed a blessing on Mary and the child – who was the Lord – in her womb.  Mary replied with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving and stayed with her cousins for about three months then returned home. (See Luke 1:39-56).  
  • Now when all of this was going on with Mary, Matthew tells us more about Joseph and what was going on with him.  

Matt 1:18-20 ESV

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. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 

  • So apparently, Joseph was in the dark about the angelic message.  All he knew was that his fiancé was pregnant, and it wasn’t with him.  Here is the question, what will you do when someone you deeply and dearly love betrays you and hurts you deeply? Remember at this point, Joseph does not know the whole story – he is making a decision on what he knows to be true at the moment – his fiancé was pregnant, and it was not with him.  
  • So, why did a perfect God play it out this way?  God could have communicated the message to both Mary and Joseph to tell them both what He was doing and what was going to happen.  But He did not, He just told Mary, and then Mary went away and did not tell Joseph what she had seen nor what had happened.  We know this because after she heard the message from Gabriel, she left town for 3 months and also we know this because God told him what had happened after he found out she was pregnant.  I think it rolled out this way to test and to prove who Joseph was. And most of the time when God is working, He does not give us all the information at one time, it usually is a process to see what is in our hearts and if we will trust Him.  
  • What would you do in this situation? Our doing always flows from our being.  Who you are is reflected in what you do.  Joseph was a “just man”.  He was good man, he was a godly man, he was a righteous man. He loved God and he loved her.  Even though he thought that she had betrayed him, and he was hurt, he did not want to hurt her back or shame her or embarrass her or disgrace her. Because of love, he had in his heart to give her mercy, and quietly walk away, even though it is was within his right and within his power to publicly shame and destroy her for what she had done to him.  Joseph resolved to be merciful because he loved.  Will you do the same?  
  • In our anticipation and preparation for the coming King, will you walk in love by showing mercy to those who have hurt and betrayed you?  Mercy – is not giving people what they deserve. 

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful

Luke 6:32-36 ESV

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.  35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

  • People who are not Christian love others who love them.  People who are not Christian do good to those who are good to them. People who are not Christian lend to others expecting to get things back.  What separates Christians from those who are not Christian?  Christians love those who are their enemies, Christians do good to their enemies.  Christian lend expecting nothing in return.  They seek their reward from God.  They show that they are a part of the family of God by doing as their Father does, by being kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  They are merciful, like their Father is merciful.  

Give mercy to receive mercy

Matt 5:7 ESV

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

  • Those who are merciful are blessed by God.  Why? Because they will receive mercy from God.  If you want to receive mercy from God who knows everything about us, to whom we owe the greatest of debts, we must be people who give mercy to others.  Your strength is shown not in your judgment, but in your mercy.  


Mercy triumphs over judgment

James 2:11 ESV

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

  • If you want to win at life, if you want to win people over to Christ, if you want to receive mercy yourself, always remember that mercy triumphs over judgment.  Mercy wins every single time over judgment.  If you want to win, then walk in Mercy. Give mercy instead of judgment.  This is hard because it grates against our self-righteous, religious flesh.  

Conclusion 

  • In anticipation and preparation of the coming of the King, walk as people of love by being merciful to those who hurt and betray you.  Be merciful so you will receive mercy, be like your heavenly Father who is merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgement. 
  • As far as the rest of the story goes, God did tell Joseph what was up and what to do. Joseph obeyed God, even though not everyone believed him, and many people looked down on him and his family for it.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor 13:7 ESV) Trust God in His plan and for His reward.  Walk in hope, walk in love, be merciful.