Sunday, December 6, 2020

Joseph, The Grace Giver

by Audrey Frank @AudreyCFrank

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 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. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” …When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus (Matthew 1:18-21, 24).

Joseph, the husband of Mary and earthly father of Jesus, was a grace-giver.

It has been said that grace is when one does not give an offender what he or she deserves. How difficult! How nearly impossible when the heart is devastated by another’s actions!

In Joseph’s time, the betrothal promise was binding. He and Mary were, essentially, married. She had evidently violated their commitment to each other and slept with another man, resulting in pregnancy. According to the law, Joseph had a right to publicly disgrace Mary, even stone her. In honor-shame cultures, to live disgraced was worse than stoning. The shamed woman would live the rest of her life alone, ostracized, marked as irreparable. In the opinions of many, death might have been more merciful.

Joseph understood this and compassionately decided to offer what remaining protection he could and divorce her quietly. 

He was at the limit of his understanding of what to do in such a painful situation, and he made the plan that seemed best to him.

That is exactly where God showed up. At the end. The limit. Right there where Joseph sat, his head in his hands, hair poking every direction from running his fingers through it as he stressed for hours over what to do. He was done thinking, considering. This is what he must do: divorce her quietly and at least give Mary a delay from the shame and loss that was certainly coming to her. 

The rest… well it was in God’s hands. His blurry eyes closed in the exhausted sleep of the broken-hearted.

Here at the end of Joseph’s strength, God appeared. 

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. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (v. 20-21).

In those astonishing words, Joseph glimpsed God’s magnificent grace. What he thought was a problem between him and Mary was in fact a promise fulfilled. This revelation of grace compelled him to do exactly what the Lord commanded.

Joseph's choice to obey the Lord cost him. Now he would bear disgrace in the eyes of the community right alongside Mary. Their first son would be born into a context of cultural misunderstanding and shame. And the truth was simply too spectacular to be believed by most.

Joseph chose to be misunderstood. Being a grace-giver means we lay down our rights and at times, our reputations, in exchange for the good of others and the glory of God. We may be misunderstood, and we choose to live with that.

A grace-giver does not merely cover the apparent sins of others to protect them from disgrace, nor make a quick exit plan to distance himself from the offender.

This is a hard one, especially in today’s world of masks, social media blocking, and unfriending. We are easily offended by much less than something so serious as Mary’s supposed betrayal. And it is easier than ever to walk away. Create distance. Never speak again.

Even as I write this, I am convicted of my graceless reaction to an editor three years ago who rejected me. Since that time, I have complained, judged, and hardened my heart. If my message today is of any value, I must ask God’s forgiveness and trust Him to show me what to do.

A grace-giver submits her perspective and understanding to God’s greater Perspective and Understanding. The Lord sees every heart, all the details, everything that is hidden from our limited, human view. And you never know what someone else is going through.

A grace-giver trusts God’s sovereignty in situations he cannot explain or fully understand. Grace requires faith. Faith that God will indeed work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, even when things really look bad.

We talk often about peace, love, and joy at Christmastime. Joseph teaches us that grace is what made it all possible.

I want to be a grace-giver this Christmas. Join me?

Lord, make me a grace-giver through my words and my actions. Thank you for your grace toward me. Amen.


Audrey Frank is an author, speaker, and storyteller. The stories she shares are brave and true. They give voice to those whose words are silenced by shame, the hard things in life that don’t make sense, and the losses that leave us wondering if we will survive. Audrey and her family have spent over twenty years living and working among different cultures and world views, and she has found that God’s story of redemption spans every geography and culture. He is the God of Instead, giving honor instead of shame, gladness instead of mourning, hope instead of despair. Although she has three different degrees in communication and intercultural studies, Audrey’s greatest credential is that she is known and loved by the One who made her.

Audrey is the author of Covered Glory: The Face of Honor and Shame in the Muslim World (Harvest House Publishers), an outpouring of Audrey’s heart to introduce others to the God of Instead. Shame is not unique to the developing world, the plight of the women behind veils, young girls trafficked across borders; shame is lurking in hearts everywhere. Through powerful stories from women around the world, Covered Glory illuminates the power of the Gospel to remove shame, giving honor instead. Available at favorite booksellers: BARNES & NOBLE , BOOKS A MILLION, AMAZON.

You can also find Audrey at WWW.AUDREYFRANK.COM, as well as on TWITTER and FACEBOOK


  1. Thank you. Inspiring, uplifting, and healing of my heart.

  2. Thank you for sharing these beautiful and timely words. A great way to start my morning.

  3. Yes, I want to be a grace-giver this Christmas season.

  4. You touched me on a very personal level today Ms. Audrey. Thank you for being the "Light Writer" you are young lady. God's blessings.

  5. This is a wonderful perspective and so moving, Ms. Frank. It's so often overlooked that Joseph had a grace-filled nature. He intended to show grace to Mary even before the angel visited him... but when he experienced the true grace of God, Joseph not only showed Mary grace, but stepped into the struggle with her. Thank you for such a powerful reminder.