Abram decided to prostitute his wife…..right after God freely chose Abraham to be a recipient of His great grace to bless Abraham and to be a blessings unto the nations. (Genesis 12:1-3, 12:10-20)
In regards to this passage, most of my life I have just thought Abraham was a scaredy-cat who would use such words as scaredy-cat. I took him for a man who was extremely selfish and only looked out for number one. “Oh!, I might die….here wife…just..just…a… say you’re my sister….yeah….you’re so beautiful…they will not be able to resist and I will be spared.” While that may be somewhat true, I do not think it completely lines up with what was happening. I can’t say what was happening was worse, but it was horrible, and continues to damage individuals, families, businesses and ministries today.
In John Calvin’s commentary on Genesis 12, he points out the possible thinking of Abraham was not to protect his own life out of fear but to protect the promise of God….that Abraham would be a mighty nation and would bless the nations.
“Undoubtedly he would have chosen to die a hundred times, rather than thus to ruin the character of his wife, and to be deprived of the society of her whom alone he loved. But while he reflected that the hope of salvation was centred in himself, that he was the fountain of the Church of God that unless he lived, the benediction promised to him, and to his seed, was vain; he did not estimate his own life according to the private affection of the flesh; but inasmuch as he did not wish the effect of the divine vocation to perish through his death, he was so affected with concern for the preservation of his own life, that he overlooked every thing besides.” (Calvin, Genesis Commentary, pg 267)
For clarity…Calvin then goes on to write against this and the danger of turning away from God’s Word and ways.
I can see Abraham’s thinking….”If I die, how will God fulfill His promises?” So, in his great zeal to be about the promise of God for the nations, he decided to devise a strategy…even if it broke his heart and spirit of his wife….he was willing to lay down his family for the sake of the promise.
Why would he do this?! Why would he receive from God the promise but think that he was the master craftsman of the plan?
He, unknowingly, was trying to out strategize God. He thought he was doing the right thing, or only thing possible, and was even willing to suffer for it. His plan went outside the bounds of God’s ways….lying…prostituting his wife….etc.
Abraham needed to trust the God of providence and leave the protecting of the promise to Him by submitting to His ways.
Much could be written, and has been, about Abraham’s life of faith, sin, protection, correction, trust, victory, and blessings to the nations. None of us are above Abraham…we are all sinners in need of God’s great grace….in need of Abraham’s seed…Jesus! We are all in need of God’s daily vision and grace for each day’s situations, problems and opportunities.
However, this story has within it a great lesson for all of us.
Do not use the Lord’s Name in vain for the sake of your ministry and what you think God is calling you to do.
How are you potentially trying to out strategize God by trusting in your ways of what seems best?
How are you managing your business? Do you give much money to your church and missions but use a few dishonest methods to make the money?
How do you speak with and relate to those on your ministry team? Are you showing the love of God through respect, care and celebration or are you lording over them with harsh words, little care, and insults….all for the sake, somehow, of bettering the ministry.
Are you possibly sacrificing your family in a way that God is not asking you to do? “But Lord, you called me to this, so you must be OK with my wife and children receiving little attention and love.” “Family care is a business of the church through women’s small groups, Sunday school and youth ministries…not the husband…especially busy ministers of the gospel, right?” If I don’t do the things I think I should be doing, the lost around me will perish, the hurting saints will continue to hurt.”
We all know that there are indeed sacrifices that families go though together for the sake of the gospel….but often we fail to evaluate the fruit and consequences on the family and even the wisdom of them. You say that your family has agreed to your “marriage to my ministry”, but they will never really understand it(rightly so), and will resent it, and some will resent the God you say you serve.
God is able. God can manage without us. But God desires to use us, to use you! But in a way that honors Him and his ways. A way that seeks to be a blessing to the nations for the glory of God by submitting to the ways of God. At times we think our ways are His ways because our heart and passion for the end-results of God being praised are in mind….yet we fail to praise him through our plans and means.
May we repent from our strategies that do not line up with God’s will. By faith, let us trust that He who created the world, bled for the world, and redeems the world, can best plan for the world.
Let us seek to live for the glory of God for the good of all around us. Let us never turn to our own ways without first turning to His. Let us be in the Word. Let us listen to our families. Let us listen to those around us who will lovingly speak the truth to us…even if it hurts…so that we may not hurt others…and so we may joyfully worship God.
May the Gospel go forth! May the nations be glad.