An old friend used to say this and I think it has some merit to it:
“Faith trumps character.”
As I read through Genesis I’m always struck with this phenomena. The lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob make for good case studies. Does the Bible cast these men as hero’s of the faith? Yes. How bout models of morality? Hardly.
They were a lying bunch.
- Abraham lied about his wife. “She’s my sister.” Although that was partially true, he deliberately shaded the fact that they were also maried to save his own life. And Pharaoh actually took Sarah to be his wife! Gross. Thanks dear for laying down your life for me.
- Isaac lied about his wife the same way his daddy did. “She’s my sister.” But, this time there was nothing true about his statement.
- Jacob of course lied. He lied to his father to get a blessing. And he appears to have had lied to Esau after the momentous renaming event.
- And even Judah (the chosen line of messiah) lies! He sells out his brother and lies to his dad saying some wild beast killed him.
So you see, they were a pack of liars. And the questionable character doesn’t stop there.
So I find it amazing that God would take special pride in saying…
I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB (Ex. 3:6; 3:15-16; 4:5; Matt. 22:32; Mark 12:26; Luke 20:37; Acts 7:32)
Scripture does not hold these people as men of character. But, isn’t that what God is looking for? (Oh, that’s a whole blog post right there!) Aren’t men of God supposed to be models of morality?
Maybe that’s why so many leaders fall… because we hold them up (and they hold themselves up) as something humans were never intended to be… models of morality. This is not to say that God doesn’t care about character. Sin deeply grieves a holy God. But what moves God most? Character? No. What impacts Him most is faith.
Genesis 15:6 says, Abraham believed the LORD, and the LORD counted it to him as righteousness.
Abraham may have had a bad hand of cards, but he did possess the trump card and he used it!
When I read through Hebrews chapter 11 I see some pretty shady fellows. When I read through church history I see duplicitous and questionable characters. When I look at the church today I may see some unethical dealings. When I look at my own life I see an inability to live up to my own ideas. But, the good news is that no matter how bad of hand we have (and sometimes its BAD) we each have been given a trump card.
When we BELIEVE GOD something happens!
Earth: Would you look at that hypocrite! Heaven: But, he maintains his faith. TRUMP!
Earth: Did you hear about the scandal? Heaven: But, she holds on to God’s promise. TRUMP!
Earth: Oh, he fell into some sin. Heaven: But, his heart is still with the Lord. TRUMP!
Earth may scoff at your cards. And while they may be pretty pathetic, we still possess a trump card that far outweighs them all.
So I’m realizing… that there are no moral heroes in the Bible. Scripture just doesn’t cast them that way. The only hero is God. And what moves Him most is seeing our faith, even in spite of our character.