Examples to Instruct Us

At the root of worry, anxiousness and unfounded fear we see the sin of doubt or as it is sometimes said, lack of faith.

Last time I finished up by teasing you a little with the OT heroes and our similarity to them regarding worrying. They dealt with fear, worry and anxiety too-and sometimes they handled it well and other times they blew it badly.

Scripture teaches that their examples ought to instruct us-either to respond biblically or in a negative sense, show us where they went wrong. (Romans 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11)

Our sinful problems began with our sister, Eve. To move Eve to the point of defying God, the serpent messed with Eve’s thinking by planting the seeds of doubt. He said, “Did God really say…” and he implied that God was not really good and was withholding something good from her. She worried she was missing out! We all suffer the consequences today for her doubting. Her act of disobedience was connected to her lack of trust in God and her fear of being cheated out of something.

What about Abraham? His relationship with God was a bit different than ours-he had direct communication with God, imagine that! We see in Scripture that there were times Abraham showed incredible faith-leaving Ur, sacrificing Isaac, the rescue of Lot’s people and so on.

Yet, Abraham feared for his life before Pharaoh and asked his wife to lie about who she was so that she could be turned over to a harem! Once was bad, twice was worse! It boggles my mind that after God brought them through that situation unharmed, and the humiliation Abraham suffered as a result of his lack of faith he actually committed the same sin, and demonstrated the same lack of faith a second time. (Genesis 12) Again God rescued them and that is a great illustration of how all of us can be incredibly self-centered depending on the situation.

Have you ever taken a course such as this? Been so fearful and worried about how a situation would turn out that you lied in an attempt to orchestrate the results?

And how about Abraham’s lovely Sarah… (Gen. 16: 1-15) She certainly had fears of her own. Despite the promise (the promise!) that God gave to Abraham that he would be the father of many generations she could see as the years went by that God had closed her womb and she desperately wanted to give Abraham a son. She wanted to “help” God fulfill His promise! So, she took matters into her own hands and had her husband sleep with her maid to give her a child, and Hagar became a surrogate mother. We cannot determine if it was impatience as the main factor or if it was fear or worry that God would not follow through with his promise that drove her to make this tragic decision but the result was she doubted God’s Word.

I am not about to touch the whole issue of surrogate motherhood but I will ask you if you ever thought you needed to “help” God fulfill His promises? Many do just that as they attempt to add to the payment of Christ for their sins by living a good life, obeying the Ten Commandments and so on. God has promised us that Christ is enough, and paid more than enough to assure our ransom. That is but one example and I know you can think of many more!

And then there is Peter, who loved Jesus so deeply yet after his bold protestations of being willing to die for Christ he found a great fear of man when and in the end he denied Christ three times. (John 13:36-38)

Have you been in such a situation? Perhaps with your unsaved family at a gathering where someone begins to lambaste Christianity and mock God or the Bible? You know the right thing is to respond for Jesus and yet the fear of man is so great you stay silent and slink out of the room. That is a terrible feeling and I can only imagine Peter’s grief and sorrow at his display of cowardous.

The young protégé of Paul, Timothy also struggled with fear. Paul exhorted him by saying,
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) He was afraid because he was young and the older men of the church would not respect him. He was also afraid due to the political climate he was ministering in.

So you see, you and I are in good company! This certainly does not excuse our worry or fear, in fact just the opposite. God has recorded these things for us to look back on and learn from that you and I might respond righteously.

More next time.