OT: Gen. 20:1-22:24
Wow, so Abraham had a moral relapse and once again passed off Sarah as his sister. First of all, what is the deal with all this spouse swapping? "Here, sleep with my maidservant." "Here, sleep with my 'sister.'" We talk about today's culture being promiscuous, but I mean, these were the "righteous ones" in Abraham's time. Good grief!
And you have to feel sorry for Abimelech (except for the fact that as an ancient ruler, he feels that he can just take whomever he wants for his wife). He was clueless until God laid out for him what was going on. And it wasn't like Abraham was very repentant about his deception. Abraham very much feels like the fear of death is a valid excuse in this case. "And besides, she really is my sister." Blech. If I were Sarah, I would be none too pleased with this "manly" display. I like how Abimelech tells Sarah, "I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver..." This statement tells me that Abimelech thinks Abraham is a big loser. He doesn't talk directly to Abraham. He doesn't even mention his name, but snidely refers to him as "your brother." He is probably ready to get rid of this freaky family.
But then he has to keep dealing with them! It surely must mystify Abimelech that this cowardly liar is a formidable force. When he visits him later, Abimelech acknowledges the reason for Abraham's power: "God is with you in everything you do. So please don't be a jerk to me." Okay, so I paraphrased that last sentence. But you know Abimelech was wondering, "And why is God with this guy??"
But God was. And whatever God said to do, Abraham did. He may not have much moral fortitude when left to his own judgment, but when God said jump, Abraham said, "how high?" His obedience is seriously impressive. I cannot imagine having to sacrifice my son. That is just crazy talk. And yet, Abraham is willing to do it. Now, that is a man with faith!
NT: Matt. 7: 15-29
Today's portion of the sermon on the mount raises an interesting point about judgment. Earlier, Jesus says, "Do not judge," but here he says, "Of course, by all means, judge!" Judge the tree by its fruit. Judge the person by his actions. How else will you be able to identify a false prophet? Paul does the same type of thing. Sometimes he seems anti-judging, and then other times he assures his audience that he has already judged a person and recommends that person be kicked out of the church (see I Cor. 5). It seems that in his earlier warnings against judgment, Jesus wasn't saying to turn our brain off and never come to a moral conclusion. He was urging humility instead. He was reminding us that we too would be judged one day, and that we needed to remember the greatness of our own sins before we sought to identify others' sins. (I did notice in that earlier reading that he does say to remove the speck. Just make sure your own plank is out, first.)
Jesus' words in v 21-27 address the "faith/actions" paradox that we've discussed. Verses 21-23 makes it sound like our admission into heaven is contingent on the degree to which we've obeyed Jesus' words. And verses 24-27 compares those who hear these words (i.e. the crazy things that Jesus just said) and puts them into practice with those who hear and do not practice them.
SO...even though these teachings seem impossible, even though they may be trying to make us aware of our need for God's grace, there definitely seems to be a degree to which we are expected to obey them. Honestly, at this point, it is all a little brain-bending to me. I am just going to try my best to walk humbly with God, rely on Him for strength each day, and trust Him with the rest.
Psalm 9: 1-12
Wow, I love our bolded verse for the day: "The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,/ a stronghold in times of trouble./ Those who know your name will trust in you,/ for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." That last line reminds me of my stance on the sermon of the mount. I try everyday to follow Jesus' commands. And I mess up terribly everyday. Seriously, it's ridiculous. But I really do seek Him with all my heart, and I have faith that He will never forsake me.
Wisdom will save you from the adulteress. It's odd how such dangerous and damaging sins can be so alluring to people. That is how sin works, I guess. I pray for my family, that we always follow the ways of wisdom and don't even give sin a foothold into our lives. I shudder to think the damage it can do.