I’ve been studying through the story of Abraham in the book of Genesis. I’m rather stuck there actually, but I’m having fun so I’ve decided to share and hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed the process of writing it. Today’s snapshot of the story of Abraham focuses on Hagar and how her situation helps illustrate a small part of living out a loving and faithful relationship with Jesus.
Hagar served Sarai as her personal maid. Sarai is too old to have children and so she decides to give Hagar as a second wife to her husband Abram in order to hopefully produce the son God has promised. But when Hagar discovers she is pregnant she starts to think she is better than Sarai because clearly God had chosen her as the mother of the heir promised to Abram.
Hagar’s thoughts produced actions and this did not sit well with Sarai. I’m going to guess this was one of those times in life where getting even with each other and being catty to each other happened on a regular basis.
Why? Because each thought themselves better than the other.
Sarai, no doubt fed up to her eyeballs with Hagar’s shenanigans, complained to Abram who told her she could deal with the problem as she saw fit.
But here’s the thing…
Just because you are more right…does not make you less wrong.
Genesis 16:6 (NIV) says “Then Sarai mistreated Hagar”.
Hagar is fed up with the situation also.
Abram has clearly taken a side…and not hers.
She decides to get even with the both of them and takes her ‘promised by God baby’ and runs off headed towards her homeland of Egypt.
Genesis 16:7,8 (NIV)
7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.”
The word “mistreated” in Genesis 6:6 and the word “submit” a few verses later in verse 9 are both from the verb “wə·hiṯ·‘an·nî”.
“Wə·hiṯ·‘an·nî’ means “to humble”.
Sarai humbled Hagar and Hagar packed up and left. But now the angel says to Hagar, ‘Go back and humble yourself to Sarai’.
First of all Sarai has humbled her and Hagar didn’t like it. She didn’t like it so much she ran away. But now basically she is to humble herself in the same way.
She wasn’t to go back and humble Sarai.
She wasn’t to go back and humble Abram.
Though clearly both Abram and Sarai were not entirely innocent either.
Hagar was to humble herself.
This is not an easy thing to do!
Paul says in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship”.
The emotional pain Hagar suffered when Sarai humbled her, the seeming unfairness of it all and then the angel of the Lord told Hagar to go back and submit to Sarai, to humble herself in the same emotionally painful, unfair way. What a perfect example of what offering ourselves as a living sacrifice is all about.
What a perfect example of what Jesus did for us on the cross of Calvary.
A time in history when God took His heart out of His chest and sent it to earth to die for our sins.
Take a look at the cross of Calvary.
Take a look at that kind of love.
That kind of submission, that kind of humility.
Imagine God wants to plant the cross of Calvary into your heart.
He wants the extreme love of the cross to take root in your heart and grow.
What looked like an old dead tree will grow leaves.
And produce the flowers of grace and mercy.
Which will produce the fruit of submission to God.
And with that kind of humility and submission to God we will not try to convince Him that because we are more right we are less wrong and therefore just fine as we are.
Because the problem is…
We tend to look at all the things God has to give us and we stand there and hesitate to accept them. We hesitate because we are afraid we are going to have to give up our favorite little sins, or be humble, or forgiving.
We say we want to serve God but we go chasing down sin and death as if it is going to escape our grasp.
God created us from the dust of the earth and He loves every speck of dust we are created from. We need to accept who we are; simply the dust of the earth and stop struggling to be more. After all we did not create ourselves and give ourselves life. God created us. He created every neuron in our brain to create pathways of loving thoughts. He created our heart to be full of His love. Not as a burden but as our freedom.
So just because we are more right doesn’t make us less wrong
The importance of serving God outweighs our personal little quibbles with other people.