I like the country song by Rodney Atkins called, “Watching You.” It’s about a little guy who’s in the truck with his dad enjoying his happy meal. When the brakes slam, the french fries fly and the little boy uses a four-letter word. Surprised, the dad asks where he learned that word. And the song says, “Been watching you, Dad.” Yikes!
Later in the song, the little guy kneels to say his bedtime prayers and the father asks the same question, ”Where’d you learn that son”? And again, the little boy says, “Been watching you Dad.” It’s really true, more is caught than taught, especially when it comes to our children. And our actions always speak much louder than our words.
Jesus told a parable about this in Matthew 21. A father asked his two sons to work the vineyard. One son said he would, but he didn’t. The other son said he wouldn’t but he did. In both of these sons, the actions meant more to their father than their words.
And when it comes to actions speaking loudly there’s no better example in scripture than Joseph. He was the earthly father of Jesus. And not one word from Joseph is recorded in scripture — but his actions were. I guess God wanted his son to be raised by a man whose actions spoke louder than words. The Bible clarifies two actions that characterized Joseph’s life.
“Because Joseph her (Mary’s) husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:19).
Joseph faced a very difficult situation. He finds the woman he’s engaged to is pregnant and not by him. In those days, ending an engagement was like ending a marriage. It was a big deal. It had to be done legally and was a long process.
Also, in the Jewish faith, it wasn’t possible for a man to marry a woman whose child wasn’t his and be right with God. Joseph had some options.
He could have had Mary stoned — that’s what the law said. Or he could publicly divorce and humiliate her. Instead, he chose to quietly call things off without ruining her reputation while retaining his relationship with God.
This was the most merciful yet righteous thing Joseph could do. And God calls us to the same — to live out truth with a loving heart.
“When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife” (Matthew 1:24).
Joseph knew that many would never understand the real story. Some would look at the life he chose as one of disgrace and humiliation.
But Joseph chose what was best — for everyone. And like many of us, he probably didn’t realize the eternal weight of that decision.
Jesus had a great example in Joseph to learn from in life. And we have a great example to learn from in Jesus.
Let’s do the right thing and bring forth what only our best actions can.