In Matthew’s gospel, chapter one, Joseph has just discovered that Mary is pregnant. Knowing that he wasn’t the father, Joseph is making plans to end things with Mary. That’s when an angel appears to Joseph, and says to him “…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…” (Matthew 1:20-21)
Well lets see how Joseph responds: “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:20-25) In other words, Joseph immediately did all God had commanded him to do through the angel.
When I tell my kids to start getting ready for bed, or to start cleaning up after dinner, or whatever, I expect them to listen and obey right away. And that’s what God expects from us. Listening and obeying right away is characteristic of the godly. For example, in Genesis 22 God commanded Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering. The Bible records that early the next morning he got up and set out. That is, he obeyed right away. When Jesus called Simon Peter and his brother Andrew to follow him we read in Matthew 4:19 how “At once they left their nets and followed him.” And when Jesus called James and his brother John to follow him we read in Matthew 4:21 how “…immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” If we want to be godly then we have to master the timing of our obedience. Better late than never is true, but even better than that is to listen and obey right away.
Now why is this so important? Well, the Bible makes clear: If you won’t obey God in the current step he’s told you to take he won’t reveal to you the next step in his plan for your life. God only gave Joseph step two once Joseph had obeyed step one. And that’s how it works with us too.
Revelation 19:16 makes it clear that Jesus is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” so we have to evaluate our lives and see if there’s any area where we’ve delayed obedience. Once we get saved the Bible says our very next step is water baptism. If you’ve been saved, are you obeying right away? When someone sins against us, we don’t have to trust them right away, but we do need to forgive them right away. If you’ve been hurt, are you obeying right away? If you have conflict with someone, the Bible says to go to them. If someone has offended you, are you listening and obeying right away? I hope you are because the first thing Joseph’s life teaches us is that delayed obedience is disobedience.