No one is perfect, even the person who God called His friend—Abraham (Isaiah 41:8) has made many bad decisions in his life. Some of them are terribly wrong. It shows how evil and sinful human beings can be, that we all need the salvation prepared by God and delivered by Jesus Christ. Let's start from Genesis 16 and reflect on a string of events related to Hagar and Ishmael.

We learned from the previous chapter that God made a covenant with Abram (later called Abraham) that God is going to give him a son, and through the son, his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. (Genesis 15:4-5) Not only that, God gives lands for his descendants to inherit. But probably after a few quiet years without hearing from God again, in chapter 16, Sarai his wife offered to fulfill God's promise to him in her way by offering one of her slave girls called Hagar as the second wife, and Abram accepted it! This decision led to more evil decisions and actions in the future and even causes many conflicts in later human history.

The Bible didn't tell us why Abram decided to accept the offer. Maybe he lost his faith, or perhaps he simply couldn't resist the temptation. No matter what the reason was, he should have known better. I believe the author of Genesis purposely put this event right after the incident where God made His covenant with Abram to remind us how easy we can lose our faith and commit sins. We should have known better. Like Paul's wailing in Romans 7:24: "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?" (NIV) But he continues: "Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (v.25, Ibid) As a Christian in the New Testament area, we are in a much better position than our Old Testament counterparts, because Jesus Christ has already brought the salvation and given His Spirit. Further, the Holy Bible is completed, so we have God's words and the history as our guides and references. It doesn't mean that we will automatically have a stronger faith than Abraham (in fact, it is seldom that someone will have a stronger faith than him) or that we'll walk closer with Christ and commit fewer sins in our lives. The advantage we have is in the Holy Bible, in Holy Spirit, as well as the example of Jesus Christ. It's much easier for us to surround ourselves with God's truth. In the OT time, followers of God mostly had to wait for the revelation of God passively and indirectly. But ever since Jesus Christ pay the death penalty for our sins on the cross, Christ followers in the NT area can directly approach God all the time.

While the advantages the NT Christians have don't guarantee us to a holier life, the willingness of allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our lives in every way does help when it comes to decision making in life. Living a Spirit-filled life does increase our ability to resist all kinds of temptations. Further, God's Words and the guidance of the Holy Spirit does help us to make the decisions that please God. The empowerment of the Holy Spirit does make us closer to God's image every day.

Share with your partner how God has changed you in one area. Pray for each other that you are willing to immerse yourselves in God's truth every day.