Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. Genesis 16:1-6 ESV
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Romans 4:2-8 ESV
Jeff and his friends were choosing up sides to play a baseball game. Jeff was one of the captains. He usually chose the kids who were the worst baseball players. He picked ones who couldn’t hit, or throw, or catch the ball very well. Jeff had a mean fastball, and he also could hit the ball over the fence most of the time. He often won the game, even if he chose the worst players. He was happy to give them a chance to play and to win.
God is like Jeff. When he chooses people, he chooses people who are weak and sinful. He can work with them and through them to do good things. Abram and Sarai could be weak and sinful sometimes. Their trust that God would keep his promise and give them a son was starting to fail. They decided to do something about it.
In that place and time, a man was allowed to have more than one wife. Sometimes a wife would actually give her husband another wife so they could have children. Sarai was trying to be a good wife. But while God allowed men to have more than one wife, it fell short of his perfect plan for the marriage of one man to one woman. When Abram and Sarai did things their own way, it caused all kinds of sadness and trouble.
God forgave Abram and Sarai for their sins. This is good news for us. It reminds us, when we sin and feel as if we are no good to God, that he loves and forgives people of their failures and wrongs. It shows that he can still use us for good. God sent Jesus to die on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. We can always go to God for forgiveness and for strength and courage because of Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving and forgiving sinful and weak people like us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.