“The Lord is good to all....”
Psalm 145: 9
King James Version
“What Lives In Egypt Should Stay In Egypt”
Our God is Good
“Goodness is something so simple: Always live for others, never to seek one’s own advantage.” - Dag Hammarskjöld
Do I strive to do good for the benefit of others in my life?
“If we are to be genuinely in earnest with a high ethical rule of living, it would seem to be indispensable that we should be convinced that there is something really at stake in moral effort, and that the something which may be won or lost is no less than the supreme good which makes life worth living.” - Alfred Edward Taylor
Abram and Sarai – called by God to leave family, friends and country to journey to a far away land given to them by God as a “Promised Land.” But no sooner had the “family caravan” departed than a road-bump appeared. A famine filled the land and Abram, forgetting altogether who had asked him to embark on the journey and who had promised him a special land, decided he better come up with a solution to the famine problem. So he informed his family they were going to Egypt, a place where God wasn’t in charge and Pharaoh was. And in Pharaoh’s land, God’s rules didn’t apply. Women were to be used, not treasured. Women were possessions that men acquired, not gifts given by a kind Heavenly Father. Women were collected in harems, not honored as wives. So before Abram knew it, the famine wasn’t the only road-bump he ran into. Now he had another problem to deal with – Sarai’s beauty. And so this man of God decided to have his wife lie to protect him. Pharaoh had only to take one look at Abram’s pretty “sister” and he said, “She’s mine. I want her.” Thankfully God stepped in. Abram might not have paid attention to God, but Pharaoh did – especially when a plague hit him and his house. It didn’t take this foreign ruler long to figure out he’d better give Sarai back to her rightful “husband” and so Pharaoh called Abram. “Come get your wife. And while you’re at it, get out of Egypt. By the way, I’m going to sweeten the deal. I’m giving you donkeys and cows and sheep and the best manservants and maidservants. You’re leaving here rich, Abram!”
At that moment, Abram should have told Pharaoh, “Thanks, but no thanks!”
What Abram should have done was thank God for getting him out of such a mess, taken his wife and family and gotten back on God’s path to the Promised Land. He certainly should have left Pharaoh’s gifts in Egypt where they belonged! Abram didn’t need Pharaoh’s gifts when he had God’s blessings. He didn’t need Pharaoh’s money when he had God’s abundance. But again, Abram forgot who was leading his life so he began to clutch at the “things” Pharaoh gave him. I want to interject right here that before we heap too much criticism on old Abram, we too find ourselves grabbing Pharaoh’s goodies, trying to fill our hands and stuff our pockets with Pharaoh’s trinkets, be they money, houses, cars, clothes or other possessions. We often live our lives thinking that more of what Pharaoh has will bring us happiness. Like Abram, even when we finally have had enough of Egypt, and decide to leave, we hope we can at least take a little of Egypt’s bounty with us.
In the case of Abram and Sarai, as many historians point out, it appears Hagar, an Egyptian, ended-up being one of the things God’s couple left Egypt with. A female servant who, as we will find out all this week, caused such a rift in Abram’s family, we are still living with the effects of this disastrous decision today.
You might wonder why our text today is about “goodness.”
In my opinion, making a choice of “goodness” was at the core of the problem that developed in Abram’s family.
Nothing can convince me it is or was a “good” thing to take Hagar, an Egyptian girl, out of her family, away from her friends and the comfort of home. This wasn’t a “good” decision. It wasn’t kind. It wasn’t compassionate. How would you like being torn away from those you love only to be taken to a foreign country and treated as though you were “less than?” If this story has any family strains that echo other times, just think of the heartache caused by all forms of slavery, past and present. We human fools should have read the account of Hagar more carefully, if only to learn the pain and heartache that results when one group decides to treat another with disrespect and cruelty.
Sadly, the heart of Hagar became a breeding ground for hatred and contempt. Especially, after being treated as though she were a feelingless, brainless specimen, only to be used to meet the needs of her demanding master and mistress.
All this week, as we gain insight into the life of Hagar, I hope we find our path illuminated as to the way God bestows “good” on all. David the Psalmist wrote that God is good to all. He doesn’t treat “good” kids different than “bad” kids.
Think how God’s own Son was nailed to a cross. Think how Jesus treated the thief on the cross. And consider how God loves us in spite of our failings. This is not what we would expect but He loves us all. He is good to us all. How can we be anything less to our enemies?
When God led Abram out of Egypt, just think of the witness he could have been for a “good” God if he had said, “Pharaoh, my God provides. Keep your gifts. Let your people stay here with their families. I have all I need from my Father.”
Just imagine if Hagar had stayed in Egypt.
“May I be no man’s enemy, and may I be the friend of that which is eternal and abides.
May I never quarrel with those nearest me: and if I do, may I be reconciled quickly.
May I love, seek, and attain only that which is good.
May I wish for all men’s happiness and envy none.
May I never rejoice in the ill-fortune of one who has wronged me. When I have done or said what is wrong, may I never wait for the rebuke of others, but always rebuke myself until I make amends.
May I win no victory that harms either me or my opponent.
May I reconcile friends who are angry with one another.
May I, to the extent of my power, give all needful help to my friends and all who are in want.
May I never fail a friend who is in danger.
When visiting those in grief may I be able by gentle and healing words to soften their pain.
May I respect myself.
May I always keep tame that which rages within me.
May I accustom myself to be gentle, and never be angry with people because of circumstances.
May I never discuss who is wicked and what wicked things he has done, but know good men and follow in their footsteps.”
Eusebius, 3rd Century
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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