Monday, 15 April 2013
He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,… Romans 4:20
Abraham has been given as the prime example of fortitude in faith. He remained unwavering in his convictions concerning the promise of God. Unfortunately, he is too often maligned against this very premise when it comes to the account with Hagar. The man of faith is said to have weakened at that time, but this is not at all the case. Paul states very clearly here that “he did not waiver at the promise of God through unbelief.”
What occurred with Hagar was simply a man not having all the information that God has. Because of this, his actions with Hagar were done in faith, not apart from them. It was Sarah who made the proposition and Abraham acted upon it, possibly assuming this was the divine plan God spoke of. In the end, all came about exactly as God intended. Ishmael was born to meet God’s plans and later Sarah conceived Isaac, thus bringing glory to God.
Abraham’s walk was continuously one of undivided faith. The Greek word translated as “waver” indicates a mental struggle concerning the issue. In Abraham, there was no such turmoil. God spoke and he believed unwaveringly. Abraham learned early and held fast to the truth that if one looks at the circumstances around them they will falter, but if they fix their eyes on the Lord their is only surety of purpose and resoluteness in determination.
For this very reason, the Bible elsewhere implores us to “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) and again to “fix our thoughts on Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1). When we look unto Him, there will be no time for mental distractions which cause us to falter.
But there is an important caveat which must be considered concerning our faith. Misapplied promises can only lead to unsatisfactory results. It is highly fashionable to take single verses out of context and make faith-based claims on them. This is both unreasonable and harmful. When quoting Scripture to build up faith, it must be taken in context and in the manner intended by God. Otherwise, it is no promise at all. Handle the word with care, especially when looking to its promises.
Life application: Who is being addressed in a letter or book? What are the circumstances of what is being said – time, place, person. Is the verse speaking directly to you or are you merely being allowed the privilege of seeing God’s promise to someone else for learning, but not self-application. Knowing and applying these and many other rules of interpretation will keep one from becoming disillusioned by promises which were never intended to be used in your own personal manner.
Lord God, give me wisdom and discernment concerning Your word and help me to rightly divide its instruction. Help me to know when a verse is being taken out of context and instead, help me to be built up by a clear understanding of the intent of what is being presented. I know that as I learn these things, my walk with You will become more sure. Amen.