1 Samuel 1:7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.
One of the distinctive features of the Bible is that it doesn’t cover anything up; people are presented in all their foolishness, weakness and sin. It is in that sense perhaps the most realistic book in existence, despite the accusations of mythology that are leveled against it. One thing that stands out to me in the Old Testament is all the evidence against polygamy. Even ignoring the hundreds of women corralled by kings, the record shows how unhealthy polygamy really is. This little vignette shows that rivalry within a home, a family, is never a good thing, and doubly so when it is spouses. Each individual is worthy of being valued for who they are, and not in comparison to someone else. Jesus’ words in Matthew 19 are a powerful statement for monogamy, and Paul’s remarks in Ephesians 5 reinforce that. The devil hates faithful, monogamous marriage because it is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church, as Paul brings out in Ephesians 5, so he does all he can to tear it down. The recent push to get away from even the biological foundation for marriage is just the latest of his schemes. When we read the Bible we need to remember that people aren’t presented necessarily as paragons to be emulated, they are presented as they were, faults and all. One of the most glorious things about the Gospel is that God loves us as we are. We don’t have to clean ourselves up before we come to Him, but we have to be willing for Him to clean us up after we come to Him. That should be a lesson everyone gets from reading the Bible, but most people seem to miss it, probably because they don’t really read the Bible!
I have been intensely aware of God’s love and mercy in spite of our weaknesses, and I am deeply grateful. I haven’t done things that would interest the police, but I have certainly violated God’s laws more times than I even realize. That awareness makes it imperative that I forgive others, because Jesus made it very clear that we must forgive if we want to be forgiven. (Matthew 6:14-15) I am exposed to others’ failings constantly, and unfortunately, they are exposed to mine. I am not to demand perfection, but at the same time I am to strive toward it, just as Paul did, (Philippians 3:13-14) and encourage others to do likewise.
Father, thank You for Your truly amazing grace. Help me be an open conduit of that grace, drawing others to live in You by letting that grace flow through me unhindered. May I never use grace as an excuse for sin, in myself or in others, but may I never forget that Your grace is always greater than all sin, in myself or others. Thank You. Hallelujah!