Nehemiah 9:7-8 “You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous.” (NIV)
I’m still in Nehemiah and this was the passage that struck me today. In her study Kelly Minter had us look at why God says Abraham is faithful. To make a long story short, he’s obedient–he leaves his home and travels to the land God shows him (Canaan) and he intends to sacrifice his son.
I love that Abraham isn’t perfectly faithful: He tries to fulfill God’s promise by taking matters into his own hands and having a son with Hagar. He gives in to fear and lies about Sarah’s identity, not once but twice. Who knows what his attitude was in the midst of the messiness of life? Yet God says that he had a faithful heart.
I was reminded of the obedient son in Matthew 21:28-30. He says he won’t do what his father wants, but then he changes his mind and obeys. But he’s the one who is held up as the better son (the other son says he’ll obey, but never does).
It was encouraging to think of faithful obedience in terms of actions vs. attitudes. I’m not saying attitudes don’t matter–obviously, they do. But sometimes my obedience is fearful or reluctant. I love that there’s something in the tiny kernel of faith propelling me forward that pleases God. I love that it’s possible for me to have “a faithful heart” even if it’s not always perfectly full of faith.
Romans 4:3b “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (NIV)