Your Sins Will Find You Out
1. Minor Mistakes Can Have Major Consequences
Several years ago a major power plant in the northwestern part of our country was completely shut down. The loss of electricity and cost of repairs were enormous. After an extensive search, engineers determined the cause of the outage: a five-cent washer! The plant crew spent millions of dollars and hundreds of man-hours, all because of a tiny misplaced metal part. Small mistakes can have huge consequences.
How many times have you heard people say, "Oh, if I could just go back and make a different choice!" Sarah experienced the dangerous results of choosing not to follow God's commands completely. To be clear, Sarah was apparently innocent, however, of any wrong. A simple pawn in the game of life, she would suffer greatly because of a well-intended, yet serious mistake her husband made.
When the news came of an impending famine, Abraham's first thought was to run. That little sojourn down into Egypt would be a fiasco of monumental proportions. God had told them to leave Haran and go into Canaan, to which they responded with instant obedience. But God gave no command for Abraham to take his family from Canaan into Egypt. Abraham could have saved himself from great heartache if he had simply followed the Lord's direction completely.
The story of Abraham is filled with references to "the Lord said" and "the Lord told Abraham." Why this time did he act alone? Perhaps he thought the move was an insignificant and obvious decision he could make without consulting God. But a step without God's leadership is always a step down. Samson went down to Timnath; David looked down from his rooftop; Jonah went down to Tarsus. They were seemingly innocent and insignificant mistakes, but even the slightest step away from God's leadership and out of God's will is a step downward. Abraham and Sarah should never have agreed to go down to Egypt at all.
2. Downward Spirals Always Increase in Velocity
Wrong decisions usually lead to more wrong decisions, creating even greater wrong. Like a tornado whose winds blow the most fiercely at the end of the funnel, we do not commit more sin without digging a deeper hole and heaping the dirt on top of ourselves. On the surface Abraham's move to Egypt was the obvious one to make. Perhaps he thought, Do I have to pray about everything? Surely this is an easy and natural decision. But choosing to rely on human reason led to a lie about Sarah, essentially selling her into adultery with the Egyptian Pharaoh. Genesis 12:15 says, "She was taken into his palace." In verse 19, Pharaoh admits, "I took her to be my wife." What do you think that means? At the very least, Abraham's foolishness sold her into slavery to Pharaoh's family, if not into his harem as a concubine. The rebuke of Pharaoh in 12:18-19 is stinging. Nothing is ever quite as devastating as when the unrighteous rebuke the righteous for their unrighteousness. For Abraham it was a serious blow because of a careless and thoughtless choice that did not include God.
Do you pride yourself on having good common sense? How many times have you heard someone say, "I made a decision based on the best information available." Maybe you've said that at some point in your life. Let me ask you a question. Did the best information available include time spent alone with God, searching to hear His voice, seeking His perfect will for your life? If not, then you certainly did not have the best information available. God stands ready to hear our cries for help. Better to cry to Him for guidance before the fact than for deliverance after.
Some folks have a hard time asking for directions. These same people generally brag about their great sense of direction. But if I'm heading down a wrong road, driving farther and going faster do nothing to help me get where I am going. In fact, it delays my arrival at my intended destination, and all because I was too proud or too impatient to simply ask for directions. The consequences of failing to follow God in complete obedience are enormous. Ask around. There are plenty of people who will tell you that downward spirals always increase in velocity.
3. Selfishness Is Its Own Reward
In the days of manual typewriters, one key always wore out the fastest. It was the letter "I." According to the people who repair typewriters, it was not because of the number of times the key was punched, but because of the force with which the key was struck. Selfishness comes rather naturally for us. We evaluate and make our decisions based on how the situation impacts us personally, quite often with very little thought for others involved.
Abraham demonstrated world-class selfishness when he made the decision to pass Sarah off as his sister. This entire bizarre incident was the selfish fault of Abraham. Verse 13 says, "Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake." Abraham wasn't thinking about his wife; he was thinking about Abraham. An innocent and faithful woman was thrust into the arms of another man by a husband whose only motivation was his selfish intent to save himself. But before we are too quick to judge Abraham, we need to take a look in the mirror. How many times have we said yes to an assignment or a promotion without any thought about how it might affect our family? And have we ever told a half-truth in order to protect our image? We most often learn humility by being humiliated! Selfishness is a guaranteed recipe to cook up a big batch of humiliation.