Life Lessons

Unlikely Heroes

By February 25, 2016 No Comments

God has this weird way of being attracted to those who have really blown it. It makes no sense to the morality police of this world but it’s true.


This whole grace perspective makes no sense from the vantage point of human fairness, and that’s especially so if you allow a religious filter to affect the way you look at it. Most of us would think it only makes sense that the people God would choose to lift up as examples would be the people who got it right when it comes to behavior and belief. But that’s not how He does it. God has this weird way of being attracted to those who have really blown it. It makes no sense to the morality police of this world but it’s true.

The Bible lists a group of people who have become known as the “heroes of faith.” They’re listed in Hebrews, chapter eleven. It you take a look at the lives of the people named there it may well knock your moral programming offline. In fact, when you look at the way most of the people mentioned there behaved, you may have to reboot your whole understanding of how God sees people and who He decides to lift us as examples for the rest of us.

Those listed as heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 were, for the most part, definitely not people most of us would have chosen as role models. Or, if we had decided to list their names, at least we would have left out some of the gory details of the inconsistent and wrong behavior that marked their lives at times.

There are the exceptions mentioned in Hebrews 11, such as Abel, Enoch, Samuel and a few others about whom we would be hard pressed to find much fault. Then there are the others, the majority in fact; whose lifestyles often looked more like a dirty movie than the biography of a Bible character. Noah is listed as a person of great faith, yet the man was found lying in a drunken stupor no sooner than the ground was dry enough for him to fall down on. In Genesis 8:20, he is seen building an altar shortly after he stepped out of the ark. Then, in Genesis 9:20, he is seen drunk and naked, and seemingly (according to many Bible scholars) doing some things that would make the average churchgoer cringe to even think about.

Mentioned next in the lineup is Abraham, who is commended so strongly in Hebrews 11 that it seems as if the writer has completely forgotten that the Bible has already given us the low-down on the man in the book of Genesis. Abraham took a concubine named Hagar to try to produce the son God had promised. Nobody would argue that what he did wasn’t wrong, but most people who know their own propensity toward doubting God at times can let that one slide. But what about Genesis 12 where he told Sarah to tell everybody she was his sister when they arrived in Egypt? He let her be “taken into Pharaoh’s house” to save himself. (See Genesis 12:11-15) He was willing to give her to someone else sexually because he was afraid!

Most people wouldn’t recommend Abraham as “Husband Of The Year,” but the Bible lists him as a man of great faith. Apparently God looks past behavior and into the heart more readily than most of us can imagine or are willing to practice ourselves.

In Hebrews 11:32, the writer said that time wouldn’t permit him to mention all the heroes of faith. Read the chapter and consider the lives of those mentioned. There is Isaac, who committed the same sin as his father. (See Genesis 26:6-9) Then there is Jacob, who until this day is remembered as a sneaky and conniving man for much of his lifetime. Moses is mentioned, despite the fact that he once killed a man. (See Exodus 2:11-12) Samson and David are both on the list, even though both of them had adulterous affairs that are remembered to this day. Hebrews 11:31 plainly refers to Rahab as “Rahab the harlot.”

How does it cause you to feel to think that the Bible calls our attention toward people who behaved like that? I hope it causes you to be encouraged. Why would God set forward people who had behaved like cowards, perverts, murderers, adulterers, harlots?  It is to show us just how big His grace is!  Oh, by the way, let the record show that much of their misbehavior came after they had come to know and follow God. Our tendency is to often try to get past the misbehavior of people by saying, “Well, they weren’t believers then.” But these in Hebrews 11 were believers when they misbehaved in such obvious ways.

Does grace mean that God doesn’t care about how we behave? Sometimes people accuse those who teach grace of advocating that. No, God isn’t indifferent about how we act.  It was sin that put Jesus on the cross, and I’m not suggesting that we be soft in our attitude toward sin.  But, we should be soft on people! That includes you. Don’t think for a moment that God looks at you in a negative way because of things you’ve done. You have failed?  Welcome to the club. Read Hebrews 11 to learn the names of our charter members. Our club has a rich heritage. Then after you have read their names and remembered their sinful actions, thank God that He has taken yours away from you. If He could only love people who never sinned, He wouldn’t have anybody in this world that He could have anything to do with whatsoever.

God’s grace is bigger than your biggest mistakes, foolish choices and sinful actions. Where sin abounds, grace still much more abounds. Despite your wrongdoing, even if it happened after you became a follower of Jesus, you can be a faith superstar. By His grace, He has made you competent. Put the past behind. When you fall, get up. Keep your eyes on the One who loves you no matter what. Move forward. And all along the way, thank God for grace!

Steve McVey

Author Steve McVey

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