Sunday, September 23, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 28 - Abraham's Integrity

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 9th September 2007 in Newton Life. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Note: There is no preaching in Newton Life on 16th and 23rd September.

Passage: Genesis 23

Genesis 22 told us about the sacrifice of Isaac. Genesis 23 talked about the death of Sarah. Abraham was 137 when Sarah died. Isaac married at 40 years old. About 3 years after Sarah died, Isaac married. So she did not witness the marriage of Isaac. She lived to 127 years. Abraham mourned for her. They had a good relationship and Abraham loved Sarah till she died. Abraham lived 38 years as a widower after Sarah’s death. It is very sad to lose one’s spouse at old age. It is very hard to adjust because they have spent such a long time to adapt.

We do not know how long Eve, Esther, Rahab, or even Mary lived. This is the only passage of the Bible where the lifespan of a woman is recorded. Sarah was 10 years younger than Abraham, and died earlier than Abraham. Hence for a long period of time Abraham had to live alone. A widow often would be able to arrange for her husband’s burial even though she never does it before. But a widower would find it hard to bury his wife. It is harder for a man to live alone than for a woman to live alone. In fact, the Bible says, “It is not good for a man be alone” but never says it is not good for a woman to be alone. Generally woman is able to live an orderly life alone, but it is difficult for a man to do so.

This is due to the differences between man and woman. Generally, man looks at big picture while woman looks at detail. Man takes care of career while woman takes care of the house. Man tends to rationality while woman to emotions. But here we see Abraham burying his wife.

Abraham is a man of integrity who knew his status very well. God had led him to Canaan and given him that land. By the promise of God, he was the rightful owner of the land. But practically he would not abuse that to demand his right from the inhabitants of the land. So he humbly said to them he was a foreigner living among them. This is the correct attitude. A lot of times Christians become arrogant and start to bully others on the basis that they have spiritual promises from God.

We are children of God. The earth and all that is in it belong to God. But temporarily God allows Satan to control the world. God says we do not belong to the world. He saved us from evil but put us in this world to live among the sinners as witnesses to His righteousness. Do we ask the Lord to bless us through the pagans or do we let others receive blessings through us?

As guests, we have to respect the owners of the house and appreciate what they have done. We cannot just take whatever they have and say this is our Father’s world. Abraham lived among the heathen. He pleaded with them to buy a property for his wife’s burial. He did not become arrogant or self-centered but followed the rules and regulation.

The leaders of the Hittite responded by saying Abraham was well-respected and they could give any land he wanted for free. Every pagan family knew him, honored him and liked him. Whichever land he chose, nobody would refuse him. It means Abraham was very successful socially. He had very good relationship with his neighbors. All the pagans honored him.
How many Christians are like that today? What sort of reputation do Christians have today? Unfortunately, although many people think Christianity are great they think Christians are not great. Many people agree the Bible is great but the believers are not. And many acknowledge Christian teaching is good but the teachers are not.

Abraham was a man of integrity. His relationship was real. He does not want to receive the things he ought not receive. He is not quick to take gain from others. He is different from Lot. At the saddest time of his life, he still stood by his principles and did not let his emotions to take over. He feared God and respected men. Once the price of the land was revealed, Abraham immediately paid.
When others are good to us, we should not grab the opportunity immediately. They might be testing us. They might want us to fall. Only those who are wise would not haphazardly accept the goodness of others. But even when we know it is genuine goodness, we still have to ask ourselves whether it is appropriate for us to receive them.

But today we do not distinguish what is from God and what is from Satan. Many Christians are quick to seize whatever they can gain. They base their meaning of life on profit and loss. We need to understand that when we gain something, it is not necessarily from God. Sometimes God also wants to test us whether we love money or we love Him, whether we will glorify God and will do things beneficial to mankind with what He gives.

Abraham became our example. He did not take advantage of others. He was very willing to pay the price. He was honored by the Hittites. He did not sell away his birthright and receive things haphazardly. 400 shekels is a lot of money. He paid the full price.
He dared to pay what he should, honor what he should and held fast to the right principles. The unbelievers would honor this kind of believer.

1 Comments:

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Abel N. said...

Quote:
How many Christians are like that today? What sort of reputation do Christians have today? Unfortunately, although many people think Christianity are great they think Christians are not great. Many people agree the Bible is great but the believers are not. And many acknowledge Christian teaching is good but the teachers are not.

Comment:
As Moody said, out of 100 people, 1 will read the Bible, and the 99 will read the Christian.

 

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