This week a friend passed away. He had been battling ALS for four years. Warren was a good man, ambitious worker, incredibly talented musician, and a Christian. For that I am eternally grateful to God for reaching him with His love in Christ. His death on this Thanksgiving week seemed the wrong time, but we know God's timing is perfect. Even during the most festive time of year it is good to face mortality. By facing our mortality we can put into perspective what is really important in this life and the life to come. So here is a simple thought to consider.
To man, it is the greatest of sadness, death, that attempts to link us to the afterlife. With God, it was the greatest of joys, Life, the birth of Christ, and His resurrection, that would actually link us to Heaven.
As I was reading Romans 4 this morning, I considered the apostle Paul’s multiple reinforcements of Abraham’s faith. He believed that God would give him a son in his old age (almost 100). If we are to interpret the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament then Abraham’s laugh at the God's promise (Genesis 17:17) was a laugh of astonishment and not faithlessness.
Sarah, Abraham’s wife, wasn’t as believing as her husband. She too, laughed, but laughed in unbelief. After all, she couldn't have children, but, she had an idea. Like many wives Sarah may have seen the excitement in her husband’s face over this promise God made to him. The old man was changed and she could see it. Perhaps in her unbelief she didn’t want to see her husband disappointed, so she offered him Hagar, her handmaid, in hope that she would give him a son. Here’s the question.
If Abraham was as unwaveringly faithful as Paul said, then why did he take Hagar, his wife’s handmaid, to wife (engage in sex)?
Here is my answer. Abraham was every bit a man. He had the same fleshly desires and weaknesses as any man today. Here is a man that had his wife's permission to have sex with another woman, and he took the offer. Abraham engaged in an adulterous relationship with Hagar because he wanted to, not because he needed a son.
This should serve as a lesson and warning to every man. The Scriptures ask the question, “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?” Proverbs 6:27. The answer is a resounding, NO! If we allow ourselves to be put in a place where our flesh will speak without our brain, we will most assuredly fall.
Consider this, the patriarch, Joseph did not run (Genesis 39:11, 12) from the sexual advancements of Potiphar's wife because he was strong, but rather because Joseph knew how weak he was to such advancements. May we as men also consider our weaknesses and avoid a life heartache.
Let's consider this also. Many great men in the Bible fell to the weakness of a woman. David, a “man after God's heart.” was one of those men. His son, Solomon was yet another, but was still considered the wisest of the wise. Do an internet search and you'll find many more. Many of these men learned valuable lessons as a result of their sin and found grace in God's eyes. The ideal situation is to avoid a sinful act, but God is still merciful, forgiving, loving, gracious, kind, and caring if we fall. We may feel the emotional pain of sin, but God doesn't change. His grace is greater than all our sin.
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
Dark is the stain that we cannot hide.
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
Brighter than snow you may be today.
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
If some men’s sins are conspicuous, like I Timothy 5:24 says they are, then it only stands to reason that the rest do a decent job of hiding their sins. Isn’t it funny how people will condemn the guy who is blatantly sinful, but praise the guy who deceives us with false righteousness?
I am making an attempt to get back to writing. Actually, I like to write. There is power in words. In 1839, Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote that “the pen is mightier than the sword”. My problem is that I don't “love” to write. I want to love writing, and the best way to love something is to spend time with it and see the virtue in it and benefits of it. Unfortunately, the extent of my writing was confined to Facebook. Now, Facebook is not a bad venue for writing, but it could be if you allow other things within it to consume the time you need to write. For me it simply consumed too much of my time and energy in other things that I simply had to stop. Yes, I'll admit that I got caught up in debates and arguments that did not profit me or anyone else. So, I deleted my Facebook account to concentrate on other things that I deem more important, and this blog is one of those things.
Let me again say that Facebook is not a bad thing. Actually, it's a wonderful social happening. As a result of Facebook I am now in contact with a friend that I had since 3rd grade. We are both now in our early 60's. If you're on Facebook, let me encourage you to be careful. We all tend to act Christlike when we're communicating with another face, but with Facebook it is easy to become more free with our words, and let's not forget that God holds us responsible for our words. Here are a few other things that we need to consider as well.
One of the biggest problems I've faced on Facebook is being misunderstood. Because you are not actually face to face with the one you are communicating with, you cannot hear inflection or see expression or determine intent of the words that are written in a post or response. As a result, there is a fair share of misunderstanding. That can also be the case with a blog such as mine, but a blog tends to help you keep your focus on the reason that you have a blog.
Here's another problem. On Facebook we too quickly go from one emotion to another. Some time ago a Facebook “friend” posted that his daughter was murdered. I followed the story right down to the arrest of this daughter's husband. It was shocking and heartbreaking. I would read one of many post about this and feel so hurt for my friend, but than I'd scroll down to read a post by another friend and laugh at the meme he uploaded. So, what is wrong with that? I won't speak for everyone, but for me I find that when my emotions run from sad to happy to anger to happy to sad again I tend to become desensitized to what is really important. In this case, the needs of my friend. Yes, we need to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15), but not within seconds of each other.
OK, one more and I'll be done with my rant. We all have opinions and that's fine, but in the end your opinion is just your opinion. Same with mine. In Acts 17:21 we are told that, “all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” Even in Paul the apostle's day there were those who shared their philosophies and opinions. As far as those men were concerned, even Paul was one with just another train of thought. Be careful in getting caught up with defending an opinion that, at best, is equal to the other guy's opinion.
Just remember that Facebook has it's virtues unless it causes you to lose yours.
Thoughts to Ponder
Tom Genovese, Sr.
What you read in these pages comes from my contemplation, meditation, or just plain thought about for no specific reason. I am the author of these pages unless otherwise specified.