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Friday, February 10, 2017

CRIME DOESN'T PAY, BUT IT DOES COLLECT INTEREST

11 And it came to pass, when Abraham was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. 12 Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.”
14 So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful. 15 The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s house.
16 He treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels.
17 But the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. . . .  20 So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had. (Genesis 12:10-20 )


Abram (Abraham) was the patriarch of 3 major world religions and the ethnic progenitor of Jews and of Arabs.  He and his wife are among the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11.  Great people.

Also great liars. 

In Genesis 12, there was a famine in Canaan, where Abram and his family had settled.  .  Crops weren’t growing.  People were starving to death. Things in the so-called Promised Land didn’t look that promising.  Seeking relief,  Abram and Sarai  entered Egypt as refugees (prophetic and contemporary irony), but they lied on their entry paperwork.   Just a small misstatement of their familial relationship. 

Saria was so fine that Abram was afraid the ancient Egyptian Department of Homeland Security officials would literally kill (him) for the chance to date her.  So he asked her to “Please say you are my sister, . . . that I may live because of you.” 

They were starving and afraid and surely you can understand why they told this lie this one time.  Except years later they got caught telling the same lies to  Abimelech, king of Gerar (the Philistines), and Abraham confessed that they’d been pulling the same con all over Canaan. 

And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is your kindness that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ” (Genesis 20:13).

It was a crime spree, and they always got away with it.  Only, they didn’t get away with it. 

In Genesis 16, frustrated with bareness, Sarah hatched a (more than a little crazy) plan to get her husband to marry her Egyptian maid and get the maid pregnant so that she, Sarah, could claim the maid’s child as her own. 

Oh, but maybe you haven’t asked yourself the question:  Where did Sarah and Abraham get an  Egyptian slave girl? 

He [Pharaoh] treated Abram well for her [Sarai’s] sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels. (Genesis 12: 16)

Hagar was part of the loot Abraham and Sarah collected the first time they’d conned somebody.

We carry our own punishment packed in the baggage of our sin.

The worst episode in Abraham and Sarah's life, the rift that nearly tore them apart, the situation that set them farthest outside of God’s will and created the most severe and longest lasting negative consequences for their family --- was the drama with Hagar and Ishmael. 

Abraham and Sarah had carried Hagar with them from con to con, unrepentantly and unknowingly making themselves despised in her eyes.  The 2 wives hated each other and Abraham caught Hell from both sides.  Sarah threw Hagar and Abraham’s son out into the desert to die --- twice.    Ishmael, Hagar’s son, became the patriarch of Arabs and Muslims.   Isaac, Sarah’s son, became the patriarch of Israel, Jews, and Christians.  The consequences of the drama created by the Hagar situation is still killing people today.

From the very beginning, they'd carried their own punishment packed in the baggage of their unrepented sin.

We all do.

Or do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? . . .   But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Romans 2: 3, 5)

We can be genuinely called, spiritually anointed, and divinely destined for Kingdom greatness, but if we keep that sin --- that one sin that’s been profitable and pleasurable and doesn’t really hurt anybody --- if we keep that unrepented sin in our lives then we are carrying an interest earning deposit of trouble, a knot burning a hole in the soul’s back pocket, a check our sin has written that our as-pirations don’t have the funds to cover.

The solution is to repent.  To surrender the sin to God and throw yourself on His of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering.  You never “got away with” you crimes.  God was good to you while you were being a douche so that His goodness would lead you to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Don’t let your sin taint your legacy.  Confess it to God.  Turn from it in repentance.  Give it up because you’re not really getting away with it.

 ---Anderson T. Graves II   is a writer, community organizer and consultant for education, ministry, and rural leadership development.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is pastor of Miles Chapel CME Church in Fairfield, Alabama;  executive director of the Substance Abuse Youth Networking Organization (SAYNO);  and director of rural leadership development for the National Institute for Human Development (NIHD).

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