Church Requel
Decision Making When I've Been Wronged
ALL of us will be wronged by someone else at some time or another. How will we respond? Today we consider the classic Christmas story of Joseph discovering Mary was pregnant in Luke 2. Along the way we discover 4 steps of decision-making when we have been wronged by someone else.
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  • Church Requel
    2 Marion Ave, Mansfield, OH 44903, USA
    Wednesday 11:00 AM
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Decision Making When I’ve Been Wronged

Today I want to speak to you about a issue that is truly ugly in our society. We’ve become a nation of our rights! We must stand up for our rights. When we’ve been wronged we announce it far and wide and do whatever is necessary to enforce our rights. To not defend our rights is to give up our rights - to allow others to trample all over us - to become mice instead of men. Are these the only 2 extreme positions available to us, or is there an in-between, a way of protecting our rights while at the same time providing mercy and grace to those who have offended us?

To find this in-between alternative, I’d like to consider the dilemma of Joseph, Mary’s husband, in Matthew Chapter 1. Let’s read together verses 18-25.

In this story I believe we can discover 4 steps of decision-making when we have been wronged by someone else. How do we choose our response?

#1 - We start from a position of MERCY & GRACE

“Joseph her 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

This verse is worth studying - if for no other reason than to demonstrate to us that there is an alternative to the two extremes of response. At one extreme is the law (which Joseph is faithful to!), which says he can have Mary publicly disgraced (and maybe even stoned) for being unfaithful. At the other extreme would be the mealy mouse accepting of what has happened as if nothing was wrong and he just had to accept it.Marry Mary and just pretend that he wasn’t really wronged.

He did neither. The Bible tells us that “he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” Why would he do that? He was certainly within his rights to disgrace her. Instead he chose to grace her! Why? Because Joseph started from a position of mercy and grace. Mercy is not responding the way people deserve. Grace is responding in a way they don’t deserve. Joseph thought Mary deserved disgrace. He chose grace instead.

This is important for us to remember as Christ-followers. We ourselves have been shown mercy. We ourselves have been graced! And when we know the personal mercy and grace of God in our lives, it changes how we respond. For one thing we do respond and not just react. Reacting is immediately going to one extreme of response or the other, because we are entitled to it by right of the law. Or to just give in because we are afraid. Responding is to slow down and think about it, to look for an alternative solution that doesn’t demand justice for the sake of being right, or giving in for the sake of being easy, but seeking the best right for the sake of true justice.

#2 - We CONSIDER and SEEK the Lord’s direction.

“But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’” Matthew 1:20

Knowing we are the beneficiaries of grace from God, this changes how we respond to others when they have wronged us. We know we also have been in the wrong to God. Yet we received grace rather than condemnation. Since we live as a grace recipient each day of our lives, grace to others can bubble to the top of our responses.

Here is the key to allowing this to happen: We must stop to CONSIDER. The difference between reacting and responding is this pause button to consider. Joseph did NOT do the first thing that came to his mind (divorce her), but rather he stopped to consider. “After he had considered this…” We all need a pause button to consider. We all need to allow time for God to speak to us to help us respond in the right way. This is especially true when we have been hurt deeply.

Part of stopping to consider is to seek out the Lord. To talk to Him. To let Him know of our hurt. To ask Him how we should respond. In the case of Joseph, “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” You may be wondering, should I expect an angel of the Lord to speak to me in a dream? My answer to you is that the Lord is fully capable of speaking to you in whatever manner He desires! The key for you is to be expectant that God does care about you. God cares about your hurt. God WILL RESPOND to you if you give him the opportunity. That means you must allow room and space in your life to hear from Him!

#3 - We confirm the Lord’s voice to us with SCRIPTURE.

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” Matthew 1:22-23

How do we know we have heard from God? One thing is for sure… He will never contradict His Holy Word. God speaks to us in many ways, one of which is through the Bible. This is why it is so important for us to be in God’s Word every single day. So we can hear from Him!

Maybe Joseph sought out the Scriptures too. We won’t know for sure until we meet him in Heaven some day. But the gospel writer of Matthew wanted to make sure that we knew that this was all part of God’s plan. Matthew’s gospel points to Isaiah 7:14 to discover the incredible fulfillment of Scripture - that a “virgin will conceive and give birth to a son.”

You might think that this was a special case. After all this was THE plan of God. This was all about God becoming flesh. Immanuel - God WITH us! And so He wanted to get it right. He sent His angel in a dream to Joseph. But I’m just a nobody. Well, I’m here to remind you that nobody is a nobody in the Kingdom of God! We are all somebody’s!

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”
Ephesians 2:10

Doesn’t it make sense that if God actually planned the good things He wants us to do, that He would find a way to let us know? God is not limited in how He can communicate. Through His Word. Through prayer. Through dreams. And yes, even with a messenger angel if He deems it necessary. As a married man, God has never found it necessary to send an angel to me, unless you want to count Mary Kay! Seriously, God also speaks to us through fellow Christians - especially through those who know us best!

So never count yourself as a nobody. You are Somebody in the Kingdom of God! I love how we sing that song: “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who saved my soul.”

Stay in the Word of God. Everyday. God will often confirm His directions to you through His Word. He also can safeguard you from making mistakes because He will never contradict what He tells you. If you think you are hearing one message direct from God, but read a different message in God’s Word - you can be sure that what you thought you heard is not from Him.

#4 - We follow through with OBEDIENCE.

”When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” Matthew 1:24

This may be the most important lesson from the Christmas story. We love to hear about the angels singing, or no room in the inn, or the 3 wise men bringing their gifts. How often do we stop and meditate on Matthew 1:24? Joseph “did what the … Lord had commanded him.” May I remind each of us this morning that this is why we name Him LORD!? The Lord commands. We obey.

Nowhere is this more important than in today’s world of put-downs, name-calling, lawsuits, and bitter arguments. When I was a kid one of the most popular songs of the day was, “What the World needs now is Love,” by Burt Bacharach. That is still a great song and not wrong! But with the divisions we see now in our society, it’s really hard to find that love. The main road towards love is grace! Maybe today’s version would be better sung, “What the world needs now is grace, sweet grace!”

With that said, let us not devolve into this idea of grace as a feeling. Or even as a not doing what we could deservedly do in response to someone else’s wrong towards us. That’s not grace. That’s mercy. Grace is an action. An overt showing of love and forgiveness in the face of attack and hurt. It’s also a matter of obedience towards God. Joseph did what the Lord commanded. What did the Lord command? A positive action - an act of grace: taking Mary as his wife.

What act of grace could the Lord be asking of you today?