Sadly, in our fallen world, small-hearted people are the norm, making the few genuinely great-hearted people stand out all the more. Among their thin ranks stands Abram, who not only gave his short-sighted nephew the choicest land but also rescued him when his choice got him into trouble! We can learn a lot from Abram, the great-hearted.
Our world desperately needs models worth following. Authentic heroes. People of integrity whose lives inspire us to take God seriously, to follow His Word obediently, to pursue Christ passionately.
Thankfully, the Bible places before us a spiritual "hall of fame"—raw, uncensored, gritty stories of men and women sometimes soaring, often stumbling, through the incredible life of faith. They wrestled with sin, experienced God's grace, struggled with weakness, and overcame by faith. Their inspiring biographies have been memorialized in Scripture, not simply because of their faith in God but because of God's faithfulness to them.
These great lives from God's Word not only provide realistic portraits for appreciation but also relevant principles for application.
Throughout his life, Abram faced a variety of tests that stretched his faith and deepened his dependence on God. When faced with his next challenge, Abram followed the Spirit. This time, his nephew Lot, failing to learn from his uncle’s mistake, was the one who made a decision that led to disaster.
When we look more closely at Abram, we begin to see his imperfections. We realize this icon of faith had feet of clay. When a famine hit, rather than standing firm in faith and trusting his God to sustain him and his wife, he fled to Egypt. We can learn lessons from faithful Abram’s temporary and tragic slump into deceit and disobedience.
When God promised to accomplish specific things for certain individuals and people groups in biblical times, those promises were unbreakable. God’s unconditional promises to a man named Abram stand as an enduring example of God’s faithfulness to His own word.
Moving to the unfamiliar and unknown was what God called Abram to do. How could he do it? Why would he want to? The answer is found in one word: obedience.
To truly learn from Abraham’s life, we must think what he thought, hear what he heard, feel what he felt, go where he went, and most of all, learn what he learned. Among the many benefits of studying the life of a man of God is the opportunity to discover truths about the God of that man.
A grace-filled death only comes about after a grace-filled life. Like few others, Paul lived with grace and died with grace—grace to the very end.
Leadership isn’t for the faint of heart—not because it’s so demanding (though it is) but because it’s so isolating. This was true of Paul. All his life, he was engaged in the nitty-gritty of ministry. But sitting in a dark dungeon awaiting death, loneliness crept into his lap and refused to leave. So Paul took his pen and wrote his friend.
Paul didn’t think life ridiculous or irrational—even with his head on the axeman’s block. In one of the finest epitaphs found in literature, Paul celebrated life, without reservation, remorse, or regret.
Paul wrote to Timothy without panic and with purpose. The days were depraved and dangerous, and Timothy needed to read Paul’s never-to-be-forgotten final charge in order to complete his ministry. Pastors today who carry on the ministry, regardless of age, location, or culture, need to hear and heed that same timely and timeless charge.