Mary lived every girl’s dream. She was not engaged to the average man; she was about to marry Joseph of Nazareth. The question was not, What did she do to attract such a good man? The real question was, What did such a good man see in Mary?
Interestingly enough, while it is hard to imagine Mary as anything less than beautiful, her physical appearance is never mentioned. Physical attractiveness can likely be assumed, yet there is a beauty that is much more than skin deep in Mary. Joseph obviously appreciated and was attracted to many excellent qualities in his bride-to-be.
While Mary was likely quite young, the angel Gabriel and her older cousin Elisabeth both said, “Blessed art thou among women.” They both recognized that apart from having celebrated relatively few birthdays, Mary was a mature woman in her character, wisdom, and spiritual exercises. She was serious about God’s will for her life and her commitment to Him. No wonder a man of like maturity was attracted to Mary. Equally, the Scripture says Mary was engaged to “a man whose name was Joseph.” Biblically, dating is not an activity so young people can have some fun. While it should be one of the most enjoyable periods of life, if it were an employment advertisement it would say, “ONLY SERIOUS AND RESPONSIBLE PEOPLE SHOULD APPLY.” This is an activity only for believers who are truly ready for the critical step of marriage.
Mary is renowned for the fact that when she married she was a virgin (Luke 1:27). Luke, the doctor, twice uses the word to describe her and, in fact, even before he gives us her name, she is called a virgin. Isaiah had promised this miraculous birth claiming, “a virgin shall conceive and bear a son” (Isa 7:14). Her personal purity before the Lord was of utmost importance both to her, her future husband, and, above all, to her God. This must have entered into the decision as to the man to whom she would be engaged. She knew that Joseph’s passion to protect her purity was far greater than any desire to satisfy his own impulses. He showed self-control not out of a fear of “getting caught” or a fear of embarrassment, but rather out of a deep love for Mary, and even more so for the holiness of the Lord. He even sacrificed his right as a married man (Matt 1:25) to protect the Lord Jesus from any false accusation of a sinful nature being passed on to Him through Joseph. Instead, he loved righteousness and was attracted to a young woman who valued modesty and purity. Any present day Mary will tell you that it is still worth waiting for a Joseph-like man who places a high premium on a woman who loves holiness and purity.
No one would give money to a thief and ask him to deposit it in the bank. Generally, we look for people we trust to carry out important tasks. In this case, Mary was that person. God would only bring about the great miracle of the incarnation and entrance of Christ into the world through a trustworthy instrument. So, He charged Mary to properly name the child and raise Him. Joseph mirrored this virtue. He was a man to whom God could entrust the responsibility of caring for Mary and Jesus. Joseph would eventually sacrifice his carpentry business and flee to Egypt for the good of his wife and child.
When a young man wants to date a girl, the question her parents will have is, Can we trust our daughter to this young man? The ideal is for a young man to be able to ask permission of the parents to date their daughter, knowing they will have full confidence in him. An even greater question is, Would God, Who knows this young man best, trust him with this young woman?
Paddling a rowboat with one oar is tough going. A marriage with one spiritual person in it can be equally challenging. This is why the Lord, Who always wants the best for us, has warned, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2Cor 6:14). Positively, He gives permission to widows and to all singles to marry, but to do so only “in the Lord” (1Cor 7:39). He wants a couple to share the same Savior and be equal in their convictions (beliefs) and to commit to Christ as their Lord. It is worth the wait for any couple to achieve and enjoy this Joseph-and-Mary quality.
Joseph was a man in regular contact with heaven. Five times he had dreams and received clear direction from the Lord. Mary had the same experience. Their spirituality was not just hearing God’s word, but they immediately obeyed no matter what it cost. Joseph was told, “Take unto thee Mary thy wife.” (Matt 1:20). His response? “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife” (Matt 1:24). Mary’s reaction was similar when the angel informed her of her impending pregnancy. She said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Mary did not take on a spiritual loser to reform him and convert him into a spiritual giant. Too many women date and marry men they hope will change into godly leaders over time. Both Joseph and Mary were spiritual before they married. It is worth it to wait until both the man and the woman share the same Savior and the same commitment to obey and serve the Lord.
So, make your list and check it twice. No, I don’t mean so much about what you want in a husband or a wife. I mean make your list as to what you should be and then check yourself twice. If you want to marry a Joseph, you must strive to be a Mary and vice versa. May God preserve you and guide you so you can live with the same confidence as Joseph and Mary, you have married in the Lord.