But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Genesis 12:17-18 ESV
When someone acts in a way that is different from their reputation, they usually become a topic of conversation. If a consistently nice person turns on someone without provocation, it will be said ~ “I can’t believe it. I’ve never seen them act like this!” If a man leaves his wife after thirty-five years of marriage, a man others perceived as loving and stable, it will be said ~ “He was the last man I would ever believe could abandon his family.” This is the stuff that makes headlines; when people act out in ways that are contrary to their reputation. When Abram, well-known throughout Jewish history for his faith, distrusted God and lied to a king to save his family, it was said ~ “Abram really did that?”
Most of the time, the places where I sin are not surprising to me. I know my weaknesses and I have a history of struggle in those areas. Those who know me well know these chinks in my armor as well and pray for me. What takes me by surprise however is when I fall in areas I think I’m immune. I don’t expect the temptation, perfectly customized by an enemy who knows how he must present it to me. He shapes its appeal to my liking and then times it perfectly. When it appears on my radar, falling for it seems so natural that I’m completely disarmed.
On Abram’s great journey of faith from Ur to the Promised Land, he had moments where he was unfaithful. He was tested again in those same areas and failed repeatedly. But by God’s grace, he would succeed in the future in the biggest faith-test of all. On Mt. Moriah, he would trust God by laying Isaac on the altar and raising a knife to take his life. Though he couldn’t see how God could intervene, he would obey nonetheless, and go down in history as the first one to whom God credited righteousness.
It is important to remember that I am not above any sin. But what is also important is to remember is that no sin disqualifies me from God’s mercy. He loves me even while I’m sinning. His covenant love is not shaken loose because I wander into enemy territory.
You are a God of mercy to a world of sinners, a God of grace to the throng of beggars. I am both. Amen