Joseph ... was a righteous man ...
You think you've had scandal in your life? Can you top this? Your fiancée approaches you and tells you she's pregnant and you're not the father. And when you ask the father's name, she tells you, "God!"
At this point in the conversation you will probably conclude that she is either psychotic or a terrible liar. Your own sanity would be questioned if you suggested she was telling the truth.
In a nutshell, however, this is Joseph's scandalous mess. Being a righteous man, according to Matthew, Joseph decides that his best course of action is a quiet divorce. But an angel of the Lord reveals to Joseph that there is a radically different way to live by righteousness. Joseph must enter into this scandal and take Mary as his wife.
How do we demonstrate righteousness?
If our definition of righteousness is keeping up appearances for the sake of neighbors and pleasing prim and proper people, then going out on a limb for the sake of God's kingdom isn't going to happen.
I hope that Joseph didn't hear the gossip of the neighbors as he exchanged his marriage vows. And I hope I do not let the talk of others derail my commitment to doing unpopular things that honor Jesus and serve his kingdom.
Lord, we are often more concerned about what our neighbors think of us than what you think. With strength through your Spirit, may our service for you be genuine. Amen.
See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!