The details of Abram, Sarai, and Hagar's relationship confound me. Because of sin, we all struggle with the same issues. Sarai and Abram were impatiently waiting for the son God promised (Genesis 15:4) and decided to take things into their own hands. The consequences of this decision have been long-lasting since Ishmael's descendants become the Arab nations. Apparently, Hagar had no say about this decision, but when she became pregnant, she looked with contempt on Sarai. Many translations use the word despised. The underlying problem seems to be pride because of her pregnancy.
Holy Spirit quickly show me the areas of my life where I do not wait on the Lord and grant me an understanding of the inevitable consequences. Please open my eyes to see my sinful pride.
"So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, 'You are a God of seeing,' for she said, 'Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.'"
What a great way to know and understand God! "A God of seeing...him who looks after me"; to know that God sees me in everything—that He sees me in my need as much as He sees me in my pride.
It seems these Pharisees and scribes had forgotten what Hagar learned about the all-seeing God. They acted as if God did not know their thoughts and intentions (Genesis 6:5). They believed God only saw their self-erected facade. "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." The fact God sees not just my outward activity, but also my thoughts and motives, is a double-edged sword because my outward and inward self do not always align.
Father, I must confess to being more like these Pharisees than I would like to admit. I do present an outward appearance of righteousness while allowing worldly inward thoughts. Please forgive me. I do not want to be a double-minded man. May I love You and Your ways above my own.
In Nehemiah's day, just as in ours, families struggled to stay intact and feed themselves. When Nehemiah heard of their complaints, he confronted those who exacerbated the problem by charging their kinsmen interest. This burden was against God's instruction in Exodus 22:25, "If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him."
This passage in Nehemiah reminds me of Acts 2:44-45 which describes the care and concern the first church in Jerusalem had for each other. We know there will always be greed and selfishness in the world, but the church is to be uniquely different. Jesus addressed this in John 13:34-35 when he told His followers they were to love one another just as He loved them. Additionally, treating fellow believers in this way proves to the world who are is His true disciples.
Lord Jesus, You speak so plainly about Your care for those the Father gave You. Instill in me the same concern. Forgive my greed and selfishness toward my brothers and sisters in Christ.