I gauge the value of gifts by the relationship with the one giving the gift, the thoughtfulness involved, and the cost.  With these three items as my foundation, the most valued gift I have ever received by anyone was grace.  God provided me with the gift of grace in spite of the non-existent relationship I had with Him.  I wanted nothing to do with God but praise God for his amazing love.  There has never been a gift more thoughtfully giving than grace.  God made preparations for grace in the very beginning.  Finally, the wonderful gift of grace cost God more then we could ever imagine.  His Son, Jesus Christ became our sacrifice and substitute.  He gave us His righteousness in exchange for our unrighteousness.  No gift compares with the gift of salvation.   

However, the gift of salvation should never be treated the same way we treat other gifts.  God desires us to cultivate this gift. Growing the gift of salvation is to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).  By working out our salvation with fear and trembling, God can begin using us to magnify Jesus Christ.  In working out our salvation on cultivating the gift of God, we should learn two lessons from Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  

First, if we want God using us to magnify His Son, Jesus Christ then we must be people of character. Joseph was engaged to the most wonderful girl in his world, Mary.  I am sure he had wonderful plans for their marriage, as any soon to be married couple would.  His wonderful plans with Mary changed the moment he found out that his beautiful bride was pregnant.  Initially, he did not believe her story of her conception (who would?).  Joseph “being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily” (Matthew 1:19). He had options before him.  Joseph could have publicly divorced her or even, had her stoned to death.  His character would not allow him to make her unplanned pregnancy a public spectacle. Even though he was hurt, he still loved Mary.  His character created the pathway for him to go in and not his emotions or feelings. God can use people of character. Instead of their emotions or feelings dictating their path, their character prevails.  God can count on people of character to follow the right course of action, regardless of the life-event.  

Second, Joseph had a teachable spirit.  As I just mentioned, Joseph was minded to divorce Mary because of her unplanned pregnancy.  The phrase “was minded” meant that he had decided to divorce her.  After all, how could he marry someone who cheated on him? Also, the public ridicule would be incredibly intense if he took her back.  If Joseph did not have a teachable spirit, then the story would end with verse 19 (I wonder how many of our stories are cut short because we do not have a teachable spirit).  However, Joseph’s teachable spirit allowed the story to continue.  Even though his mind was made up, his teachable spirit allowed there to be room for a change of mind.

Matthew records that "while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.  Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife” (Matthew 1:20-24). Joseph went from privately divorcing Mary to marrying her as the Lord wanted.  When was the last time God changed your mind on something?  Far too many professed believers in Jesus Christ are so stuck in their ways that nothing will change their minds; not even God’s word!