As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”
It's what we do when people aren't looking that really matters, isn't it? It's the definition of “integrity.” It's what defines what WE are. What we're made of. What we do behind closed doors.
Following that to a T, the man we know as the father of the Hebrew people in Genesis is a pretty rotten liar. Check out 12:10-20—Abram went to live in Egypt with his wife Sarai, and to avoid trouble with the Egyptians, he lied about his relationship with her, calling her his sister instead.
Whoa, now! Abram? The man we know will soon be renamed Abraham? THAT Abraham lied? Surely not! Yeah, we're all sinners (Romans 3:23), but Abraham?? Come on.
But there it is, plain as day. He lied. A big, fat lie. His wife became his sister, then she became Pharaoh's wife. Abram was “treated well for her sake,” and acquired a great many assets (v. 16). Things worked out pretty well for him, even after Pharaoh found out about Sarai and Abram's true relationship—he wasn't imprisoned or hurt in any way; at least, not that we are told. Instead he is just sent on his way.
Pretty nice for pulling a fast one on the leader of Egypt!
It is easy to think that in his position, we would not have done such a silly thing as lie about our spouse. But, really, how many times have we backed down in the face of possible persecution? How often have we taken the easy way out?
There's that word again—integrity. What are we really made of?
It is true that God always give us the strength we need as well as a way out of a tough spot (1 Corinthians 10:13). But how do we call up that strength? By not relying on our own, for one.
If we allow human flesh to be our main power, we will fall apart in no time. But remembering the Word that God has given us and keeping it in our hearts and on our foreheads (Deuteronomy 6:6-9), we give the Holy Spirit the chance to work in us and give us the strength that only God can provide.
Another thing to remember is that our reward is in heaven, regardless of how things go here on earth (Matthew 5:12). It is a joy to suffer for our Lord, for he endured the worst of it on the cross, and we needn't worry about the awfulness of death anymore. When things go bad here and we just want to take the easy way out, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and the promise of eternal life in heaven with him. How awesome!
God can do anything—he uses sinners to do his will and uses bad situations to make his glory known. Tax collectors, prostitutes, liars, you name it, they did and still do God's work. You could say there's always a silver lining to the cloud—when you go through a tough period of any sort, and you don't feel there's any good to come of anything anymore, know God is always, always in control and can work good out of any bad.
The Lord is our strength (Psalm 28:7) and ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). Praise him for allowing us the strength we need!