By Jeremy Sweets
Even at the mention of the biblical character Abraham, the attribute of faith clearly comes to mind. His life embodied the very essence of faithfulness and obedience to the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we are to walk by faith, not by sight.” Abraham’s life exemplifies the meaning of Paul’s charge to the Corinthians. In fact, Hebrews 11 lists Abraham among those men whose faith shines forth as a guiding light.
Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Likewise, Abraham made a great sacrifice by giving up his homeland to follow God. Though he had no idea where he was going, he knew whom he was following. Without questioning God’s commandments, Abraham accepted God’s decisions simply because God commanded him to do so. Complete faith requires obedience to the supreme authority, not grudgingly or with an attitude that questions the competence of God. As humans, we find it easy to follow God when our circumstances are not burdensome, but, when Christianity demands us to sacrifice that which we hold dear, our resolve can diminish. Will we leave our homeland and follow God wherever he leads us? Will we be as Abraham and look ahead to a hopeful expectancy to see our God?
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac.” What an extreme amount of faith this must have taken! In a sense, Abraham’s love for Jehovah even parallels God’s own gracious love for the entire world. Just as God offered up his only son, so, too, did Abraham. Abraham was completely submissive to God. Though Abraham loved his only son, he loved God more. Today as Christians, we have an extremely hard time imitating Abraham’s attitude. Jesus states in Matthew 10:37, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.” When our faith comes down to a choice between God and those closest to us, we too often pick our family and friends. Even if we do not denounce God, we lack the total commitment he requires.
As Christians, we must always let our lights shine that we may glorify our Father who is heaven. Our conduct and speech should reflect our Father. Sometimes in our daily lives we forget that Jesus Christ truly is our Lord and Savior. Our friends and family are slighted from God’s word simply because we fear rejection and a possible end to our friendship. Apparently, we love them so much that we would allow them to follow the pathway that leads to a burning and torturous hell rather than cause any personal discomfort. After all, we are looking out for their best interests not ours. The next time we see our friends out in the world, we should consider whether we have fulfilled our duty of professing Christ. Will we be as Abraham and walk by faith, or will we crumble at the first test of our Christianity? Among the most interesting and admirable traits that Abraham possessed was his perspective on life. He looked to his Creator rather than himself for answers. He had far-sighted vision because he knew that God kept his promises. Our greatest blessing is the love of God. Whatever misfortune may befall us in life, we can take full assurance and comfort knowing that, “neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Our focus should be placed in our future promises. Like Abraham, we should be, “looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Abraham knew that his sacrifices were necessary. He had seen the instability of this world of heartache and sorrow in his own life. On the other hand, God has built a city that will last forever. Because of Abraham’s faith and resulting outlook on life, he willingly obeyed God even in the face of adversity. Consequently, God greatly blessed Abraham and his family. come by chance. Abraham received favor in God’s sight because God promises to stay faithful to his obedient servants. God fulfilled every blessing guaranteed to Abraham. Our greatest comfort is in the knowledge that God remains immutable. He is the same now and forever. In Malachi 3:6, God said, “For I, the Lord, do not change.” Thus we believe wholeheartedly, “the promise which he himself made to us: eternal life” (1 John 2:25). To receive this promise, we must free ourselves from sin and enslave ourselves to the service of God to receive our sanctification and ultimately a home in heaven (Heb. 7:25): a home built by God, a house not made with hands. Heaven contains the most extreme bliss imaginable. We shall with a joyful heart escape the tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain that plague us in this life (Rev. 21:4). Most importantly, we will have a chance to join our greatest friend a friend who has always cared about us, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 7 p. 13-14
April 3, 1997