Friday, June 27, 2008

Genesis 20 - Besides

Abraham said some big lies. In Genesis 20 we're told that because he lied about his relationship with his wife, God had closed up the wombs of every woman in Abimelech's household. I've lied before, lots even, but I'm not sure that has ever happened.

What's weird about the whole event is that when it comes out, when Abimelech confronts Abraham, we witness one of the greatest tools that liars ever use. I am of course talking about the word "besides."

This is such a dangerous word because it starts to break down our resolve and represents the point when our beliefs weaken. And it's so easy to use:

"Sure, I talk with that guy at work a lot, but that's OK. Besides, my husband doesn't have the same passion for music that I do."

"I know I shouldn't have taken credit for that project at work, but it’s not a big deal. Besides, that's just something that happens in the corporate world."

"Yes, they were expensive, but I really like them. Besides, I deserve something nice, it's been a really tough week."

Besides is so insidious because it comes wrapped in the cloak of truth. Technically speaking Abraham was right. But the technicality of what he did wasn't what was in question. What he did was and it was clear that God was not looking to discuss technicalities.

Besides is like a tiny black drop in a white bucket of paint. It doesn't change the whole bucket into night sky darkness, but it blurs the color. It softens the crispness of the white into a grey. It makes the issue at hand feel fuzzy and up for discussion and debate.

This weekend, watch out for the word besides. It's cheap to use but usually, like the women in Abimelech's household would tell you, costs you much more than you expected.

8 comments:

Lisa P said...

So glad to see you write on this topic. I was a liar as a child--my parents worked, guided, prayed with and corrected me. But it wasn't until I was 16 and decided that I wanted to be an honest person, not just someone who doesn't lie, that my life began to change. Incidious sin is always dangerous, but when you let words like "besides" begin to erode the truth in your mind about the little things, it becomes indescriminate in the Truths it will start to attack.

Thanks for making room for my little soapbox here.

UTaylor526 said...

I'll be honest and say that what I have always had a problem with in this passage is that it seems as though Abraham is rewarded for lying. If he hadn't, he very well may have died as he expected. But because he did, Abimelech rewarded him with gifts. I feel like there is something I just missed here.

Prodigal Jon said...

taylor -
I wonder the same thing too. I guess I can look at it the way I look at the prodigal son story. It's another example of how even when we fail, God does not reward us with what we deserve but instead shows love.

But it confuses me too
Jon

eastern ky pastor said...

taylor,

Abraham being rewarded is really an example of how you can't blame someone else for your sin. Abimelech committed adultery with Sarah. Even though he was misled by Abraham, Abimelech was still wrong. His paying Abraham was to make restitution for his sin. I agree that it seems Abraham is getting to have his cake and eat it too. But, the lesson we should take from Abimelech is that each person is responsible for their own choices, even if those choices were made due to someone else's deceit.

Dog snob said...

UTaylor526 said...

I'll be honest and say that what I have always had a problem with in this passage is that it seems as though Abraham is rewarded for lying. If he hadn't, he very well may have died as he expected. But because he did, Abimelech rewarded him with gifts. I feel like there is something I just missed here.
-----------------------------------
I was thinking the same thing.

Good point Jon.

Augustino said...

Nuance can be a millstone. Despite often feeling pummeled with condemnation by those who only see the black and white of every matter, between blows, I can’t help admiring them. I think God can fully appreciate the many shades of why in what we do. However, He is black and white; sin, regardless of increments we endeavor to ascribe, is all wrong but, forgiveness is absolute.

This message was timely and probably (more nuance) what I needed. Nevertheless, I thought you surely were going to cover how God can work in the hearts and minds of the Philistines among us, and how they look for integrity in us.

UTaylor526 said...

Great points ya'll. I see the truth on different levels of this passage, thanks for point out what God was speaking to you. I especially like the lesson that you can't blame people for your sin.

Flesheater said...

Wow, that is very deep thought into that one word.
Thought provoking indeed. not sure I ever thought about that at all.
And how true it is.