Louder than words

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 1:24,25

Joel C. Seifert

I’ve never been comfortable with public speaking.

As a pastor, that’s not the easiest thing for me to admit. I’m grateful for every chance I get to stand in the pulpit or in front of a class and talk about what God has done for us in love, but there’s always a fair dose of self-consciousness, fear, and nerves that I’m never able to shed. I am not better than other Christians, and so many of them quietly serve God so well.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m grateful that God tells us about Joseph, Jesus’ human stepfather.

The Bible’s accounts only mention Joseph a little bit, but in that little bit God tells us so much. Joseph went through with his marriage to Mary, even though he knew she was pregnant with a child that was not his. Can you imagine the whispers and the glances that would have greeted him everywhere he went? Then he left behind everyone and everything—perhaps including his business as a carpenter—in order to take Mary and the infant Jesus down to Egypt when Herod threatened Christ’s life. That couldn’t have been easy.


Read through the accounts of Joseph, and you’ll find wonderful things. But there’s one thing you will never hear—Joseph speak. Joseph played an incredibly important role in God’s plan of salvation. But it wasn’t his words that spoke so loudly. It was his actions.

We tend to notice people who speak powerfully and lead well: a powerful preacher, an influential voice in a meeting, the person who always seems to have the great insight in a Bible class or knows the perfect thing to say to someone who’s struggling. Joseph didn’t speak a word that was recorded for us, but he listened to God’s message. He trusted God’s promises, and he followed God’s will. And God did incredible things through him.


The quiet people don’t often get noticed in this world. Maybe they don’t often get noticed in our own churches either. But they’re so important in God’s plan. They are women and men who don’t stand in pulpits or in front of great groups of people. They might not even be the most comfortable in one-on-one conversations. But they listen to God’s Word. They trust his promises, and they seek to follow his will.

And through them God does wonderful things. Children are raised to know their Savior. Offerings are given to support the spread of the gospel. Church buildings are cleaned and schedules organized. The poor are shown love, and countless prayers are offered on behalf of the sick. These Christians might not say a word, but their actions speak volumes about God’s love.

Many Christians celebrate the Festival of St. Joseph on March 19. Consider taking time that day to think about those men and women who do so much to serve God and his people. They don’t say much, but they listen and they let their faith shine by their actions. Let them hear the same thing we’d want to tell Joseph: Thank you for the way you listen to God’s Word. God speaks loudly through your actions.

Contributing editor Joel Seifert is pastor at Shining Mountains, Bozeman, Montana.



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Author: Joel C. Seifert
Volume 103, Number 3
Issue: March 2016

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