Ever heard of the phrase “reputation management”? It’s something we all engage in to one degree or another – we want to manage the way others view us, make sure they see us from our good side, not our bad, and as a result there are subtleties in how we communicate.
Social Media provides an easy illustration. Who puts an ugly picture of themselves on Instagram? Who posts unflattering information about their children on Facebook? Yeah, yeah, I know, there are the few oddballs who do both, but most of us normal people want “our public” to only see the good stuff, the happy times, not the sad, the outstanding, not the mediocre. The bumper stickers which say, “My child is somewhere in the middle of the pack academically at Waupun High”, well, they’re not selling like hotcakes.
And then there are some who work to manage the reputation of others, and most often not to their benefit. Usually this is also a twisted form of reputation management too, as passing on juicy news about the neighbor’s indiscretion lets everyone know that you are on the inside and in the know.
But Matthew chapter 1 tells about a “reputation manager” who wasn’t working for himself, and yet he also wasn’t working against others. Instead, he was managing someone else’s reputation…for their good. And for this, Scripture calls Joseph…just.
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. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.
Matthew 1:18, 19 (ESV)
No doubt in the midst of great personal pain, Joseph was thinking of Mary. At the same time he was understandably assuming that she had been unfaithful to God and to him, he was still wanting the best for her, and this meant looking out for her honor. Amazing.
Years later, Joseph’s “adopted” Son would highlight the importance of his father’s just and righteous behavior in the second greatest commandment.
“Love your neighbor’s reputation, even as you love your own.”
P.S. Happy New Year, and greetings to all you “Inspired” readers! And for those who don’t know, at Edgewood Community Church, we’re reading the New Testament together in a program called “Inspired”. We’ll read a chapter each weekday in 2015 (260 chapters in the New Testament, 261 weekdays in 2015 – it’s almost perfect, but to make it so, we’ll take Labor Day off), and I’ll be posting a devotional from my reading here each day.
I hope you’ll come back as much as you can and also, post a comment from your own reading, and finally, if you’re so moved, share the blog and reading program with a friend!
Tomorrow: January 2, Matthew 2