Mouth in Neutral

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There are many times when God’s response to our dullness surprises me. Many people go into spasms when the wrath of God is mentioned. True, God isn’t one-sided. His wrath is a real and current part of His character. So is His grace. Neither one can be emphasized at the expense of the other.

Here in Genesis 15 we have an example of God’s grace when wrath might have been our response if we had been in God’s “shoes.”

The Lord appeared to Abram in a vision and said: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward” (Genesis 15:1).

I would hope that if God appeared to me in a vision and said those words, I’d be so overwhelmed by such a wonderful promise that everything else would fly out of my mind and I’d fall flat on my face before Him in worship. What could possibly be better that having God personally tell you that He is going to be your protector and your reward?

But Abram’s response is more typical of what mine, and yours, might be. Instead of focusing on the greatness of what God has just promised him, Abram whines about not having a kid, and implies that even God isn’t enough for him without that child.

But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless...you have given me no children...” (15:2, 3, emphasis mine).

Have you ever been so caught up in your own personal pity party that you missed the blessings you DO have? If there ever was a reason for God to be offended, this was it. But in His inexplicably patient and compassionate way, in an expression of great grace and forbearance, God ignored the offense and took great pains to show Abram what was in his future—a child.

Perhaps it was because Abram had spoken without thinking, and didn’t mean to offend. Perhaps the timeless God, understanding that a man pushing 100 years old, childless, and feeling the pressure of time, needed more encouragement than he needed rebuke. We don’t know. We just know that God extended His grace even in the face of the insult. Perhaps the test that came later, recorded in Genesis 22, was a follow-up to this incident. If Abram thought, even before having a child, that a son was better than having God as his protector and reward, perhaps the child, once born, would replace God as Abram’s first priority.

Whatever the backstory was, the lesson is one we need to remember. God is enough—more than enough. To imply otherwise, to put some object or person or plan above Him, is offensive. Abram was fortunate that God was gracious to him when the consequences of his ill-advised statement could have been quite different.

I’ve shaken my fist in God’s face a few times. I’ll bet you have too. I’ve said things to Him without thinking about what my words were implying. So have you. God is gracious, but Biblical history proves that His patience isn’t limitless. The old adage applies: “Put your brain in gear before engaging your mouth.”

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