Abraham’s lie in Egypt shocks readers. Not only did he lie, but he received great wealth because of it. And as unfortunate as it was, Abraham’s lie revealed some important information about the nature of faithfulness.
On the grand scale, we have a loving God who cannot abide with sin. While love and hoiness relate well to each other, their unity is difficlut to maintain when considering humans. Our existence causes difficulties for God, because while a just God will do all He can to eradicate evil, a loving God will do all He can to benefit His creation.
The defining characteristic that causes the problem for God is “free-will”. We have the choice of how to live. Evidently angels and demons do not have such a choice. Most people argue that at one time they DID have a choice, but even then it was only one way. Perhaps angels could become demons at one time in history, but a demon could never become an angel. There is nothing that could make them whole again. It’s not possible.
But humans CAN change. We are a strange mix because we are capable of some terribly horrific acts while also capable of some of the greatest loving-sacrifices imaginable. And this God designed. It’s amazing to consider, but in the creation of mankind and this wonderful plan of redemption, God is able to fully express both love and justice at the same time. Humans are great beneficiaries of this expression of divinity.
On the practical level, we see balanced characteristics of divinity. While we human sin, we also have redemption and mercy. Of course, that is only because of Jesus. God’s incredible plan allows Him to punish fully sin while fully extending His loving mercy to sinners.
But to be even more practical, consider that we must understand that balance and make some applications to our own hearts. That’s one reason I believe God recorded the account of Abraham’s lie in Genesis 12:9-20. It’s so unexpected! It stands out as something no one would ever include in a history of one of the greatest men who ever lived. Certainly the recording shows the spark of divinity, and what a powerful message it brings if we will take the time to consider it.
Abraham lied about the identity of his wife. He told his wife to lie, and she obeyed. Not only did he lie and say that Sarai was his sister (which technically was half-true), he greatly benefitted from the lie. And it also seems that he did not learn his lesson when he was confronted over it because he did it again later with similar results! Pharoah was so thrilled to take Sarai (thinking he was taking Abraham’s sister) that he gave Abraham multitudes of cattle and all kinds of goodies for her. This is a scandalous! But it is recorded in simple detail for posterity.
How is it that such a great man of faith could behave this way? Wouldn’t we expect more from such greatness? Certainly we would. We might suggest in defense that this was long ago in a very different world and they did not understand morality as we do today. That’s true, but from Pharoah’s reaction, he understood the morality of the situation. Abraham wronged Pharoah.
Is God OK with lying if it fits His plans? I’ve heard it justified in this way. “Well, God wanted to plunder Pharoah in order to bless Abraham.” But I am absolutely sure that God prefers to bless His people through ethical means. But there is little doubt God allowed this to happen, and allowed Abraham to profit tremendously.
Here lies the perplexity of faithfulness.
While we should never discount the importance of righteousness, we also must be patient with our own mistakes. We must strike a balance between the horror of sin and the grace of God, between the need for holiness and the realization of our frailty as humans. If not then we will become either reprobates in nice suits or the most miserable lot on earth.
Today, be thankful that God embraces the perplexity and has overcome it through Jesus. While His grace is not a license to sin, it is a license to find forgiveness both from Him and from ourselves. After all, if He can be patient with us like He was with Abraham, surely we can have some patience with ourselves too.
Can we help you with finding balance? Let us know in the comments below, or contact us anytime.