Sunday, September 16, 2007

Layman's Commentary: Genesis 16:4

Genesis 16:4: And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight.

So Abram at a ripe old age and at the encouragement of his wife goes and has sexual intercourse with another woman. Abram, listening to man (or in this case woman) over God, does the wrong thing to facilitate God’s plan. In my own personal life, I have discovered that the ends never justify the means, especially in Christian service. Recently I had to recommend to one of the Boards I am serving that we release certain staff-members. They were top-notch performers with excellent results – but they could not work well under the authority of others, or at least me and the Board they were serving with. Many of their friends were stunned. But we stuck with the decision and I believe God was honored.

Man (in this case Abram and Sarai) understood God’s promise as simply that there be ‘an heir’. But we know differently. God intended His promise to be a 'specific' heir not only through Abram, but also through Sarai, his legitimate wife. To God the means is just as important as the ends. We have evidence of that throughout Scripture. In our own lives, we need to be sure of what God intends and hear Him out fully. Then we need to realize that God’s ‘means’ cannot be improved on. He does not need ‘our better mousetrap’ or any other assistance. He just wants us to be available to Him and walk in His Grace.

Now here’s the interesting thing. What Sarai plotted and Abram complied with worked! The humanly understood goal was achieved. Hagar conceived a son. But the consequences of the human means, as compared to God’s way, were now starting to emerge. Hagar realizing she had conceived starts despising her mistress, Sarai. Here was the original case of a surrogate mother changing her mind. Sarai’s wish was starting to turn into a nightmare all because she interfered with God’s plan for her and Abram’s life.

Many of the circumstances that we as Christians get into are due simply to the kinds of things Sarai was involved in. First, she failed to understand God’s full intent. Second, she wasn’t willing to wait on God’s timing and method. Third, she took matters into her own hands and involved others inappropriately. As we seek God’s will for our own life (and His promises) may we not fall victim to wishes and actions like Sarai’s.

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