December 22

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife” (Matthew 1:20). “So the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary” (Luke 1:30).

As we contemplate the events surrounding the first Christmas, we are struck by the parallels between Joseph and Mary and those of us today who desire to be disciples of Jesus Christ. As we have already noted, though Joseph and Mary technically could not be considered disciples, what God saw in them He desires to see in us; what God called them to do and to be is similar in many ways to what God calls us to do and to be. They had the unique privilege as Jesus’ parents of carrying Him with them physically wherever they went, and we have the unique privilege of carrying Jesus with us spiritually everywhere we go. “Who makes known through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

One thing that followers of God will need in every age is fearless courage. Both to Joseph and to Mary, the angel told them not to be afraid. The word means to be scared away or run away. It implies with a drawing and shrinking back and hesitating to do something. What God may ask of us is overwhelming but God honors us when He asks us to take on big assignments for Him. All He asks of us is not to be afraid. It takes courage to do the Lord’s will and to follow Him every day. Joseph and Mary had to be people of great courage in order to do God’s will and we have to be people of great courage too. This is what God has required throughout the ages from His devoted followers. Take the time to read Joshua chapter 1. Four times in these 18 verses, God repeats one phrase to Joshua: “Be strong and be brave” (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9, 18). These words are related to the word “to grow.” We become strong and brave as we grow and continue to grow. The previous generations of Israelites were faithless and fearful. Even though God promised them victory, they refused to obey. They ran away from the will of God and wandered for 40 years. Courage is not the absence of fear as much as it is doing what we need to do in spite of our fear.

Maybe you are paralyzed by fear in your life. This unhealthy, paralyzing fear is not of God. Paul saw this kind of fear possibly affecting a young pastor named Timothy, so he wrote, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Listen, God may be asking something of you that is causing you to fear. Let go of the fear and trust God. Don’t let fear hold you back or keep you back any longer. Think of how courageous this young couple 2000 years ago had to be in order for God’s will to be accomplished. Be inspired by their courage. They did not let their fear define their lives. They trusted in the Great and Almighty God, and you can too.