I read an interesting Bible passage today. It’s at the beginning of the story of Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel. In Genesis 12, God makes his first covenant (or promise) with Abraham, who was still called Abram at the time. God said, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3, NIV)
In the very next verse, we see Abram taking God at his word and acting on it. Abram moves, taking his wife, nephew, and all his possessions. Stopping in the land of Canaan, God again makes a promise to Abram to give him all the land around him (Genesis 12:4-7). But then, three verses later, Abram and his wife, Sarai, leave the land that’s been promised to them to go to Egypt to escape a famine. Entering Egypt, Abram makes a most amazing statement to his wife: “You’re a beautiful woman, Sarai, and I don’t want somebody here to kill me to get to you, so it would be better if you tell everyone I’m your brother instead of your husband.” (Genesis 12:11-13, paraphrased)
Abram put his wife in a terrible position and even allowed her to be taken into Pharaoh’s household (i.e., harem) all “so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you” (Genesis 12:13). In my opinion, there are few better examples in the Bible of someone failing to live as if they believed what God had promised!
In the first place, Abram didn’t need to be “treated well” by Pharaoh or his people. The Almighty God had promised to give him a large extent of land and to make his name great. Abram also didn’t need to worry about dying before he had any children because God had promised to make him into a great nation of people. The Bible doesn’t tell us how much time passed between the promises in verses 2-7 and Abram’s act of cowardice in verses 11-13, but it would be pretty hard to forget being told directly by God himself that he would take care of you, bless you, and give you a multitude of descendants!
Abraham wasn’t the only person in the Bible to face a scary situation. David went through numerous wars and was pursued as a young man by a king intent on killing him. But God had promised David that he would be the next king. Again and again through the book of Psalms we hear David crying out in fear, frustration, anger, and impatience, but in each and every one of these Psalms he ends up remembering the power, love and faithfulness of God. Then his fears and frustrations melt away.
Today, as Christians we have a choice: to live like we believe in God’s promises and his ability to make those promises come true, or to give into fear, frustration and anger because our lives at this very moment aren’t everything we think they should be. We can live our lives focused on protecting our own interests or focused on caring for others and showing God’s love to the world.
It isn’t always easy to live like you believe, but it is always worth it! What will you choose?
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What is my mission as an author? The goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.