My Footprint of Courage

Series: The Footprints of Christmas

December 07, 2020
Dave Smith

Whether you are talking about tracks in the snow or steps in the sand, the footprints that are left behind are obvious. Following them is not difficult, it is simply a choice to do so. ------------- The players in the Christmas story leave indelible footprints of godly character for us to follow. During the month of December, we will look at each of these individuals and highlight the spiritual values that personify their lives. Join us this month for the brief series, "The Footprints of Christmas." ------------- This week, we look at the quality of courage as seen in the life of Joseph, the earthly father of the Son of God. His obedience, while a simple act, had consequences on his life, occupation, etc. It took godly courage for him to follow God's will completely.

Episode Notes

We know the story of Joseph, but do we always consider what makes the man behind the story?

For instance,

  • It took courage to resist the plunge towards personal anger, in spite of his potential embarrassment.
  • It took courage to listen the voice of God and not the pseudo-wisdom of society, in spite of his potential bitterness.
  • It took courage to remain true to Mary in the face of societal pressure and disdain, in spite of his potential vindictiveness.
  • It took courage to abstain from being intimate with Mary until after the birth of Jesus, in spite of his potential preference.

BIG IDEAIt takes real courage to be a genuine man (or woman) of God!


18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Matthew 1.18-19 (NIV)

Do you see the phrase, “Joseph was was faithful to the law”? It is an indication as the KJV says that he was a righteous man. This vividly illustrates what was already going on in Joseph’s life. It tells us that Joseph was practicing personal integrity long before this situation occurred. He was doing the right thing!

This means he had a committed belief and that he was “positionally” righteous, but it also means he was involved in practical righteousness – he tried to do what was right because it was the right thing to do; he was not motivated but the surroundings or circumstances. No one had to pressure him to do what was right, it was inwardly motivated through personal integrity.

  • Righteousness is forged within us, not forced upon us
    1. Righteousness is maintained through a belief in God ... a thirst to “know what is right”
    1. Righteousness is rooted in a passion for God ... a thirst to “do what is right”

When this becomes your guiding principle – your north star – then it doesn’t matter how difficult or how easy the task or decision may be. Only one question will matter:  “What is the right thing to do?” This is how courage is forged for the difficult times – through doing the right thing over and over in the not-so-difficult times.

  • Character may be revealed through hardship, but it is produced through habit

It is how we define integrity (principled living, ethics, and moral fiber). It enables you to make hard decisions without regret. You are free from regret because you have already determined your choices internally by practicing righteousness day after day. When you have been seasoned through habitual godliness, you are not encumbered by ethical dilemmas. When the need for courage appears in the face of pressure, you’ve already prepared to simply do the right and godly thing. While courage is revealed through difficult opportunities, it is produced in its greatest measure through the integrity of everyday circumstances.

    1. Our family demands personal integrity!
    2. Our work demands personal integrity!
    3. Our money demands personal integrity!
    4. Our reputation demands personal integrity!

Here’s the point, the simple template for practicing personal integrity—do the right thing … every day … every time … in every situation! As you do, godly courage will begin to grow and become a part of who you are, how you live and what you do in every circumstance you face.


20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “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. 21 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.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Matthew 1.20-23 (NIV)

In this passage, Joseph was instructed by God via a dream. He was given a clear vision from the Lord of what he was to do. But that doesn’t mean it was a simple thing to do. God may have given him clarity in his purpose, but Joseph still needed conviction to obey when others around him questioned his motives and morality.

  • God has a clear vision for your life

Understand something—there is an all-out attack on spiritual truth today. Our culture and society will do all it can to make sure you don’t hear from or listen to to Word of God.

It’s not the voice of God. These other voices beg you to focus on things that bring shallow and meaningless satisfaction, the present trivial issues that make up our physical life. God’s vision keeps you centered on that matter most, eternal issues regarding our spiritual life—reading the Word of God, connecting to Him through a consistent life of prayer and seeking Godly direction through the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Until a man finds God’s divine purpose to live for, he’ll find it hard to find any thing for which he would be willing to die.

  • Courage for today is never produced apart from a vision for the future
    1. Connect with Godly purpose & eternal goals ... Then, with passion and courage, transfer these to those around you
    2. Challenge the status quo and live boldly for God ... Don’t be afraid to be different for the sake of Christ
    3. Trust God’s vision to be your compass and guide ... rather than the pursuit and passion of what you want for yourself


24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 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 (NIV)

Joseph is a perfect example of one who modeled courage through sacrificial action. In his example, we can see the very essence of how godly courage occurs—it is displayed best when it is born from or accompanied by selfless deeds.

Sacrifice, in its bare-bones, basic form, demands a cost … we give up something of ourselves so that we might provide for the needs of someone else.

We understand the purist example of such sacrifice is seen in the life of Jesus Christ when He said and later lived this truth:  “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 

  • Courage is seen in how we handle adversity

Think a little deeper about Joseph’s situation. He could have responded in a vindictive way, outwardly expressing his feelings of anger, seeking retribution. It would have been completely legal in accordance with the Law of Moses!

Of course, none of that occurred. Joseph’s godly character enabled him to properly manage his embarrassment, to overcome his sorrow, and to rein in his anger. 

Joseph demonstrated his commitment to God and to Mary by providing for and defending the wife and child that were entrusted to his care, protection, and provision.

    1. How are you sacrificing for those around you?
    2. How do you respond when life calls upon you to change?
    3. How do you adjust when situations rise that call for you to go the extra mile?

  • Courage is the foundation of a selfless life of service
    1. He accepts and addresses difficult areas of life 
    2. He makes hard decisions when they are needed
    3. He submits to God’s will for life
    4. He chooses to value what is right over what is convenient or comfortable.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John, and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus.

John 4:13 (NIV)

19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

John 4:19-20 (NIV)


How did this happen? Here’s how:

  • Practice integrity by doing the right thing (witnessing of the resurrection)
  • Pursue God’s vision (world evangelization starting in Jerusalem and going to the uttermost parts of the earth)
  • Embrace sacrifice (willing to put their life on the line for the sake of the new church)

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