Faith or Flesh
“Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.” Genesis 16:1-3 (KJV)
There are so many times that we make decisions by what looks like the right thing, and goes against what God has said, then later we pay consequences for doing so. Abram was no different. He experienced famine in the land of promise (chapter 12), then left that promise for greener pastures in Egypt. The act of proceeding down to Egypt was an act of unbelief, and in their unbelief they had taken to themselves a servant girl who would later become a source of temptation to further unbelief.
Abram needs not be put on a pedestal for us to admire, receive encouragement from, and seen as an example of faith. He was, and Sarai was; they were simple people capable, and quite able of making mistakes. We all can easily indentify with them. We have been there. We have had our faith tested, and tested again. If you haven’t; you will. You may even leave your place of promise, but God will bring you back to it, just as He did Abram and Sarai.
As far as Sarai was concerned things looked hopeless. They had no children, and it did not look as though God was going to do anything about it. Abram was now eighty five years of age – they had “dwelt ten years in the land…”. Sarai was seventy five; how could they have a son and fulfill the promise of God?
Waiting, waiting, waiting… It is such a grueling task. If you have not noticed recently, though; the Bible mentions, “Wait on the Lord…” so many times it should cause us to “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him.” (Psalm 37:7). Far too many times I want to rush in, to solve the issue, the problem, and far too many times the flesh is involved, and receives fleshly results. Isaiah 40:31 says, “They that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength…”
In our churches and evangelical groups we have people rushing around trying to accomplish the mission of God in our society. They use every imaginable thing they can think of to draw crowds. Some have used strong men, breaking and bending objects, to the cheers of the crowd. Some have used motor cycle races, and jumping. All of this in the name of Jesus to “Win souls”. Did Jesus ever call us to draw a crowd? I admire the attempt to win souls. We long for the salvation of the lost soul, but it cannot be done by fanfare. Each believer is commanded to be a witness. As we wait patiently on the Lord, He will bring people into our lives in which He intends us to be witnesses. Yes, send missionaries to the foreign fields, and our home fields, to establish churches for training ministers, ministers of reconciliation. We are witnesses in our life, our work place, our play place, our driving, our children, our worship life, on vacation, etc.. If every Christian would live the life of Christ which we are supposed to live, God would bring more people into our lives, and we would have better ears for listening to people and their problems, and better eyes for seeing troubled hearts and lives, and be waiting “patiently on the LORD” in life. Thus, more people coming to faith in Jesus.
We have a zeal for reaching the lost, but not a trust in the Lord to give the increase; so we do our own increasing. In doing that we have people who profess Christ, but do not live Christ like lives. We have young, and a few older preachers who have no backbone to stand against evil, but would and will rather compromise to win a crowd of people.
The time is short, yet we must “Wait on the Lord” to give the increase. Just like Abram and Sarai should have and could have “waited on God”, yet ended up in a lack of faith; so too, do we in rushing headlong in the flesh to accomplish spiritual goals, which only God can do.
God could not have been pleased with what Abram and Sarai did. In fact due to their short sighted act, they brought terror into the world. From them we should learn that acts of the flesh never achieve the purposes of God, but God in His sovereignty works all things out for and in His glory.
Now, do not get the idea that “Waiting on the LORD” means sitting idly by watching the leaves fall or the grass grow, and doing nothing. Hopefully, and believing it to be so; in all these years together Abram and Sarai were trying to have a son, in the way children are conceived, and born; and it was entirely in God’s plan and timing to give that son, as He had promised. Waiting on the Lord is simply going about your life as God directs and leads, trusting Him and Him alone to fulfill His promises. You keep yourself busy doing the work you are called to do, and doing it unto the Lord, with all your heart, glorifying His name.