Genesis 20:1-7 (ESV)
From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife.” Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. Now then, return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
How can the father of faith do something this faithless again? The answer is twofold.
First, he’s not the father of faith – yet. That’s his major in school but he hasn’t graduated. Second, people are inconsistent. Even when Abraham’s faith is fully matured, we can’t expect it to be fully functioning all the time. That’s just not how people are wired.
A branch of mathematics, modeling human judgment, studies this. Amazingly, models built to emulate the judgment of an expert often outperform the expert. No one is quite sure how this happens – maybe the models just never get tired – but it proves that the experts aren’t consistent.
We often say we need a savior because we’re not perfect. Inconsistent is more like it. Even the things we do right, we don’t always do right. Abraham’s lapse here is just that – a lapse. That’s why grace is the only way. If God doesn’t cut us some slack, all is lost.
And God cuts Abraham, and Sarah, and Abimelech some major slack here. He not only supernaturally interferes with the sequence of events, He explains it to Abimelech, saying, “I did not let you touch her.”
Praise God for His grace! Think about how we show grace to other people. Has someone let you down? How did you react? Have you let others down? How did they react?
These memories may be hard to dredge up, but this can be worth the effort. We tend to give less grace to other people than we expect them to give us. If we can honestly remember how this has played out in the past, we can be alerted to our own lack of grace, and learn to show grace better.
But there’s another angle that, for some people, matters more. The level of grace that God gives us is so far beyond what we give, that it can be hard to accept. If you’ve done something you don’t see as forgivable, God’s grace can feel “not right.”
But it is.
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