According to Merriam-Webster, a hero is “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities” or “one who shows great courage.”
During the COVID-19 crisis, those on the front lines of fighting this disease have been rightly identified as heroes based on the definition cited above.
This came to mind when I began reading the first chapter of Matthew where I encountered the story of Joseph, the wife of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Joseph is perhaps the best example in Scripture of someone who quietly did the right thing. While he doesn’t get a lot of ink in the Bible, his role in God’s story of salvation is significant, if not flashy. He is a hero according to Merriam-Webster’s definition.
What did he do that is so noteworthy?
Joseph was willing to marry Mary while knowing that scandal and questions would follow him for the rest of his life.
I’m pretty sure that 2,000 years ago, people were aware of the gestation period of a human child. They could count months and in a small town, everyone would be aware of what was happening with this young couple.
Questions about the timing of the birth of Jesus would have provided all the gossips in the town ample source material for speculation. They would have continued to talk behind the backs of Joseph and Mary long after the birth had taken place. Then, like now, they understood what causes pregnancy and would have questions regarding Mary’s and perhaps Joseph’s integrity.
Joseph obeyed God while knowing that his obedience was signing him up for a good bit of difficulty and disgrace in the eyes of the community. He did the right thing even though no-one in that town may have understood that it was the right thing.
In the history of the church, there have been thousands, if not millions, of men and women who have followed Joseph’s example of quietly doing the right thing. They have been obedient to their God despite the opinion of anyone in the community around them.
Rather than desiring to do big things for God, perhaps we should just focus on being obedient in the small things and let God worry about the rest. We can be encouraged in this obedience by the example of Joseph.
Joseph is a hero. He had the courage to do the right thing even when there was a personal cost in doing so.