And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they [Joseph and Mary] brought Him [the baby Jesus] up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every first-born male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’, and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, ‘A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.’” (Luke 2:22-24 - NASB)
Joseph was a poor man. The law said in Leviticus 12:6 & 8, 'And when the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she [the mother of a new born first-born] shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting, a one year old lamb for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering... 'But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons...'" Joseph and Mary offered the animals prescribed for those who were poor, who could not afford a lamb. Apparently Joseph was an absolute nobody in the eyes of men. There is nothing we are told about him that suggests he commanded attention, or had anything that would impress anyone. We are told of no external characteristic that distinguished him. But that was all on the outside. Unseen to the human eye, Joseph was a rich man, rich that is in the things of the Lord, and that is all that really matters. God does not look on the outside, He looks upon the heart.
We must also not discriminate on the basis of outward things. James warns us about this in 2:1-4: “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?” (NASB)
God didn't take one look at Joseph and say, "O that fellow is poor. Look at how shabby his clothes are. Look at how little he has. I'm not going to choose him." He looked deep into the heart and found in Joseph just the man He wanted for the task. And though we can't see into the heart, we must resist the temptation to judge according to outward criteria like wealth.
Do you feel like you are not accepted in this congregation as a result of wealth (the lack of it, that is) or standard of living? I do not believe there is one person in this congregation who would look down upon you because you are not as affluent as some others. And if there is a person like that, he is the poor one, not you. By God’s grace we will not judge each other by how nice our clothes are, or how new our car is, or how fancy our home is. God doesn't care about those things, and neither should we.
There is no indication that Joseph ever became a wealthy man. His family seems to have remained poor and Joseph seems to have died before Jesus began His public ministry at age 30. And yet was there ever a man given such wealth in all the world as Joseph? What a shame that so many give up what is so valuable to acquire that which is so worthless. In Luke 9:25 Jesus asked, “What is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits his own soul?” Let this never be said of us! Forget about being big of wallet or big of popularity. Let us be big of soul! Remember the famous statement of Jim Elliott, “That man is no fool who gives what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.”