Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Reflections for November 28, 2015

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Reflections for this date are based on the following scripture passages:
Acts 1
Acts 2
Acts 3
Genesis 21
Genesis 22
Psalms 9

Is Anything Unimportant That We Withhold From God?

Abraham had proven he was a man of faith when he followed the instructions of a God he had not known before to leave behind his extended family and go to a place that had not been revealed to him. God then promised him an heir and Abraham believed Him, though he presumed at one point that the heir must not be intended to come through his wife Sarai. So Abraham took it upon himself to have an heir through a plan that made sense to him. That mistake is still causing problems for Abraham's intended line of descendants.

Finally, at age 100, some 25 years after God's promise, Abraham had the promised son, Isaac, with his wife, Sarai. After a few years God announced a test to Abraham. Was God and His promised plan more important to Abraham than his long-awaited son? Would he withhold the son and walk away from God's covenant with him? So we have the familiar account of God telling Abraham to offer his son Isaac to Him as an offering. And those who are familiar with the account know that God stopped Abraham from killing his son and produced a ram to take his place as the intended offering. God is not into child sacrifice!

Who was the test for - God or Abraham? I suspect it was really for Abraham since God knew what he would do. The whole ordeal revealed to Abraham what was of importance in his life and how willing he was to follow God. I recall a time in my own life when, as a young man, I had come to the point of telling God I was willing to give myself to Him and do whatever He wanted with my life. I was satisfied to keep doing what I was doing at the time but was expressing my willingness to do what God wanted of me. I prayed this prayer repeatedly over a period of time and finally God revealed to me that there was something I wasn't really willing to do for him. I then had to go through a time in which I also released that thing and said I was willing also to do it. By then, God had revealed that this was the thing He wanted me to do.

If Abraham had not given back to God the long-awaited son, history would have taken a very different turn. Had I not released to God the thing I wanted to withhold, my life also would have gone a very different direction, and probably so would that of my children. Besides failing to do what God wants of us and missing the opportunity and blessing, what does it do to a person to refuse to do what God asks of them? How does it affect their future decisions for God? If they withhold the one thing, what else will they withhold in the future? And what lessons do their children learn about following God?

No matter how small the thing may seem to us that we withhold, it becomes a big thing when withheld from God. For it represents our unwillingness to be obedient. And at that point our relationship with God takes a turn. No longer do we continue to grow in that relationship. At best it simply maintains, but the risk is that we begin from that point to withdraw things we have already released.

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