Nobody’s Perfect

Today’s scripture: Genesis 12:10-20, 15:1-6, 16:2-4 (ESV-text and audio) (KJV) (The Message) What might God be saying to me?

My thoughts (Steve Adams):

Abraham came through in the clutch, didn’t he? He left home when God commanded him to (Genesis 12). He built lots of altars in heartfelt tribute to his beloved God. He even believed God’s promise to be the father of many nations when the voice of reason yelled “No, that’s impossible!” What a role model! What a hero! What stark, vivid, against-all-odds faith. He must have been perfection in the flesh — or the next thing to it, right?

Well . . . no! And, that bothered me when I read this. You see, ever since I was a child, I’ve thought of my heroes as models of perfection — or if not perfect, then at least darned close, and way above the rest of us “ordinary people.” When I was in grade school, I thought anyone who became President was like that. And when my dad took me to the Indy 500, I thought the same about the daring, skillful race drivers we saw. Then I became enthralled with great singers, and, yes, the same illusion kicked in!

So, naturally, I would expect at least near perfection from biblical heroes. When I read Genesis 12, I thought, “Hey, Abraham, I know you were in a jam, but, couldn’t you have come up with a better solution than lying?” (Even though the Ten Commandments hadn’t yet been written, I thought Abraham would have known God well enough to realize lying would not be a good option!) And then the shenanigans with Hagar! Why did he and Sarah try that one?

A long time ago I quit seeing Presidents, athletes, and performers as above the rest of us. However, it’s taken a bit longer to detach from the notion that every biblical hero was God on a stick. This made me ask myself a question: do I also have similarly unrealistic expectations about my friends, my family, my spouse, my co-workers . . . or even myself?

My answer must be, yes, at times I do. Sometimes I just don’t want to acknowledge that I or someone I care about has blown it. When I come to my senses, though, I realize love is much deeper and more profound when I love others (and myself) in spite of mistakes, however flagrant they may be. And, unrealistically high expectations are only a barrier to loving others and myself the way God intended.

Thought for the day: We can be inspired by Abraham’s example of faith even though he made some questionable decisions along the way. Are unrealistic expectations keeping me from loving myself or others as I should?

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.