I’ve made it a goal to sit down about once a week, read one chapter of the Bible, and pull out as much as I can from it, to see what God has taught me and to find out what he’s going to teach me next.
Today, I’m reading chapter 12 of Genesis.
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” –Genesis 12:1-3 NIV84
This is quite a promise, but also quite a sacrifice God is asking of Abram. God tells him to leave his home, his family, his friends and his life behind and follow blindly into the unknown. But God has promised that the unknown is a world of blessings and prosperity.
That is much like God’s promise to each of us. When we accept Christ, we are asked to leave our old ways behind, which can be scary and difficult on its own, and then, we are asked to live a new way, with a promise that it will bless and prosper us. We might not know what is coming, but we have unfailing hope in the future because of a God who never fails to deliver on his promises.
Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman. And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.
But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had. –Genesis 12:10-20 NIV84
This is a situation that I think still happens far too often. Christians have a bad habit of assuming anyone who isn’t like them is most likely a bad person.
Abram assumes the worst of the Pharaoh and the Egyptians, thinking they will kill him and take his wife by force, so he makes his wife lie and say he’s her brother. The Pharaoh gives Abram gifts, livestock, and servants. Then, when God punishes the Pharaoh for sleeping with a married woman, the Pharaoh discovers the truth. If the Pharaoh was ever going to kill Abram, it would have been at this moment, but instead, the Pharaoh lets him go and lets him keep all the gifts he’s been given.
This Pharaoh, even though he was not the same religion as Abram, didn’t follow our God, and lead a different lifestyle, was still a man of honor and respect.
This is something that I’ve opened my eyes to and let God show me in recent years: Just because someone isn’t a Christian, it doesn’t make them a bad person, my enemy, or someone who doesn’t deserve my respect. It’s not “Us vs. Them.”
We often find more virtue, honor, and conscience in people than we expect to, and we should rejoice when we are “disappointed” in this way!
As Christians, we should trust God to protect us and just assume the best of everyone we meet. It’s better to be let down a few times by giving everyone a chance than to never give others a chance and live a life of mistrust and fear.
In Genesis 12, we find that God often asks us to make sacrifices, that God promises to prosper us if we trust Him, and that we should never assume the worst of someone just because they have a different worldview than ours, because we are all children of God, and we were all separated from God at some point in our lives.