So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I thought, ‘Lest I die because of her.’ ” Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” Genesis 26:9-10
Unbelievers sin and put God’s people in danger. Consider the vast number of believers suffering across our world as you’re reading this. But the opposite can also be true. Christians sin and put non-Christians in harm’s way. Disobedience to God’s law, no matter who commits it, affects everyone in the vicinity.
Like father ~ like son ~ in this Genesis story. Abraham was afraid of Abimelech, feared that this pagan king would take Sarah to his harem. But it was the pagan King who feared God and spared Sarah. Isaac, years later, does the same thing. Fearing for Rebekah, he lies to King Abimelech about her identity and once again, it is the pagan who makes the moral choice. He knows that Isaac’s sin has put him and his people in a precarious position with God and Abimelech trembles over the ramifications.
I can suffer the effects of others’ choices too. Anyone in authority over me can exert his free will and bring calamity in my direction. Whether the head of a household, the head of a company, or the head of a church, no sin stays isolated to the one who commits it.
I consider the story of Jonah. The ‘perfect storm’ came upon the ship that carried Jonah. The sailors feared for their lives, and it dawned on them that someone on the ship might be responsible for bringing their misfortune. They confronted Jonah, he accepted the responsibility for their peril, and the rest is history.
Under whose hand are you suffering today? No wonder we are called to pray for those in authority. In humility, we are called to speak up when prompted by the Spirit, to give the one in charge the opportunity to see his sin and repent.
Or it could be that I am the one who is sinning against God. I can assume that this is private and that only I am affected. This is one of Satan’s greatest deceptions. If God would allow me to see into the future, I would understand the extent to which my choices affect the lives of those around me. It may appear that they are unaware, but even on a subconscious level, they may be forming a new behavioral default because of what I normalized.
Oh, let me learn from history. It is begging to be my teacher. Let righteousness be my legacy – even down to the small things. Amen