Today in Genesis we see an interesting story about Abram and his wife Sarai. God had promised Abram a son about a decade earlier, despite his old age. Now, he and his wife are even older and are doubting the promise of God. They are getting impatient. So they take matters into their own hands. There was a practice amongst the other cultures of the land to use a female slave as a “surrogate” mother when a wife could not have children of her own. After the baby was born it would belong to the father and his wife, not the slave woman. Abram and Sarai seem to be justifying their behavior on the grounds that it is culturally acceptable. But just because society accepts certain behavior doesn’t mean that a believer should accept it. For example, the Supreme Court of the United States has said that abortion and pornography are legal and constitutional. But that is not what God says. And God’s view always trumps human rationale.
Its interesting how this story parallels the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In both cases the wife got an idea, suggested it to her husband who did not reject it when he should have resulting in regrettable consequences. We see that human thinking and behavior don’t change much over the years.
When I was an atheist I used to look at stories like this one in the Bible and think that the Bible was sanctioning adultery and polygamy. I figured if it was in the Bible, then the Bible must be saying it is okay and therefore the Bible contradicted itself because we know that elsewhere it says that these things are not okay. But the Bible is full of stories like these not to condone the behavior of the people in them, but to show that human beings make mistakes — including those who are walking closely with God. These stories also show us that God loves everyone. When we mess up, which we eventually will, He will not break His promise to us or remove His love from us. How great is that?! God will keep His promise to Abram and soon he and Sarai will have a son of their own.
Jesus gives more great teaching in Matthew 6 today. We are to do good deeds but not to get the approval of family or friends, but to get reward from God. This reward is not getting into heaven — we already saw yesterday that we don’t get into heaven based on our deeds (we’ll see plenty more of that teaching throughout the Bible). The rewards Jesus is talking about are heavenly rewards. Since they are given out in heaven they will be eternal – they will lasts forever – and therefore are more valuable than any reward we could get on earth.
Proverbs is full of great advice for living that has stood the test of time. We should be seeking wisdom (verse 2). One translation says to “tune your ear to wisdom”. This made me think of tuning a musical instrument so that it plays the correct note. We need to “tune” our ear so that it can hear wisdom when it speaks. We should also seek to understand. This really speaks to me as a former atheist. I used to think that God was made-up and the Bible was a hoax. But I had no understanding. My opinion came from… well I don’t know where. I didn’t seek to understand. But eventually I decided to challenge my own conclusions and found them to be lacking in understanding.