Sunday night's sermon came from Genesis 16. There's the link, if you want the outline and the audio. The sermon really ended up sounding like two different sermons kind of shoe-horned together. There's a reason for that---and it's not that I'm a bad preacher. I mean, that might be true, but that's not why that happened.
Genesis 16 has a couple of different storylines to address. Typically, the focus goes on Abram and Sarai's decision to "help God out" by having Abram father a child with Hagar, Sarai's handmaid. There's plenty of reason to look at this, and that's where the sermon outline went. ultimately, keep in mind that the morals and practices of the day and culture we live in do not define what is right.
God defines what is right. Contemporary culture has been wrong before, but God never has. Go with the One with the perfect record.
I want to, instead, take a minute to look at Sarai and Hagar's relationship. Actually, I don't want to look at that. Why?
Because it reminds me of me too much. This story highlights what happens when we sin. Often we think that sin is just about us and our relationship with God. We've kind of over-bought David's line in Psalm 51:4 that he sinned against God and God alone. It is true that sin is about violating God's holiness and that sin is really between the sinner and God.
Except that's like saying the shotgun blast is only between and the duck I was shooting at. In the end, yes, but there's other pellets that scattered and can hurt others. In this case, the pattern was fired at God's plan and promise and the sin was failure to trust that obeying God's standards would be enough.
But Hagar got caught with a few stray pellets. Now, it's easy to point out that Hagar got a little haughty, and to then say that Abram and Sarai were justified to get harsh and drive her from home after she had been given to Abram "as his wife" (read Genesis 15:3. That's what the text says.)
We need to see this clearly so that we can learn how to apply this into our own lives: when we sin, even when it's not a "bad sin" but rather our typical "good sins" of helping God by doing some of His work for Him, other people get hurt. It's hard to call them "innocent' people since we're all sinners, but in these cases they are often at least innocent to our choice.
Or we've maneuvered them to think they have no choice. Any way we slice it, it's really our responsibility that these folks have the problems we've created.
So, what are we going to do about it?
1. Learn to see when we're making mistakes. Fix them---including not compounding those errors by adding new ones.
2. Find, as best we can, the people we've put into bad places by our choices. Explain our own repentance and offer a pure, clean apology. Not a "sorry, but…." apology. A real one.
3. Strive to be proactive. If we would learn to trust the Lord God and His ways, we'd hurt fewer people on the front end.
4. Focus. God's people should have a singular focus to look at Him, but our peripheral vision should always note the people around us. Besides---God is with those people, either in them as His or working in conviction to draw them to Himself. How can you focus on God and not see people?