Summary: What happens when God’s people don’t stand up for what they know is right?

OPEN: Henry Ward Beecher was a very famous preacher in his day. When he was a boy, it is said that the teacher in the school he attended asked a classmate a question The boy answered, but his teacher became visibly upset with his answer and cried testily: "Sit down!"

This frightened the boy… and he just sat down.

Several boys were asked the same question - gave the same answer- and promptly became confused when the teacher voiced his unexplained disapproval.

Finally Beecher was called upon and gave the same answer as the other boys. "Sit Down!" roared the teacher.

But Beecher didn’t sit down. He held his ground and he insisted that the answer was correct. For a few moments the teacher stormed at him, but after a few moments, he smiled and said: "Boys, you were all correct, but Beecher was the only one sure enough to stand up for it.”

APPLY: Standing up for what we believe… it’s not always an easy thing to do.

Sometimes there’s a price to be paid.

Sometimes you face rejection or humiliation

OR sometimes you can even lose something… or someone you love and hold dear.

AS A RESULT: many good men and women would rather not stand up to begin with. It’s so much easier to just duck your head and let the storm pass. It’s safer and it’s a lot easier. It’s more comfortable.

That’s what Abraham did. Abraham was faced with an opportunity to stand up for what he knew was right. But he realized that, if he did, life was going to get really uncomfortable at home.

I’ve been told… and I believe it’s true… that it’s very hard for a man to get his way in marriage. How many of believe that to be true?

ILLUS: One woman related that at a family gathering, some of the husbands began teasing their wives about how the women always seemed to get their way in their marriages.

Responding to the teasing, one woman said: "Honey, when I get my way, that’s a compromise."

Smiling he asked: "What is it when I get my way?"

She smiled back and replied, "That’s called a miracle!"

I. Now, just the day before, Abraham had heard God promise him - he would have a son… from his own body.

And he knew what God has in mind. But once he got home, and tried to explain this to Sarah, he found that she was not as excited as he was. She’s been waiting for a baby WAY to long… and she’s not going to wait any more. She wants a baby… and she wants it now.


ILLUS: have you ever heard phrase: “If momma ain’t happy… ain’t nobody happy.” Well… that’s the way things were beginning to look like they were going to be in Abraham’s home.

Sarah was not happy… and she read Abraham the riot act.

YOU WILL go into my handmaid’s tent and YOU WILL conceive a child thru her.

Her comment reveals that she has decided to “take charge” of this situation: “Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I (not “we”, not “God and you and I”… but “I”) can build a family through her.” Genesis 16:2

II. Now, Abraham’s problem was that he believed that if he just kept his mouth shut

· this whole thing would just blow over.

· his wife would be happy

· Sure, they’d have another child in addition to the son God had promised, but he was a rich man… he could afford it.

Everything would work out. All he had to do was keep his head low, and his mouth shut.

· Basically, Abraham had grown a wishbone where his backbone should have been.

I believe that’s one of the reasons God put this story in our Bible. I believe God wanted us to see what would happen if someone decided that,

- even tho’ they knew what they should have done,

- even tho’ they knew there was something they should stand up for…

They concluded that it wasn’t worth all the hassle.

For all the trouble Abraham went to, to avoid conflict his weakness (as a husband) led to nothing but MORE conflict.

Ø Giving into to Sarah’s demands didn’t make her happier

Ø In fact, it led to her being even MORE unhappy

Ø It created to conflict and turmoil in his household

Ø Ultimately, it led to Hagar & Ishmael being kicked out of the house.

III. Why would that be? Why would Abraham’s weakness lead to conflict?

Because – there’s a reason God tells us what He tells us.

In Jeremiah 29:11 God declares “…I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

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