Many of us feel that what God requires from us is impossible. To Abram, God’s requirement was to ‘walk before me faithfully and be blameless.’ (Gen 17:1) Micah summarised God’s requirements for all people: ‘to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8) Jesus said, ‘Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matt 5:20)
When we read such verses, it’s very easy for our hearts to fail, for us to give up. ‘What’s the use?’ we may say. ‘We can never please God enough; we can never live consistently enough to meet these requirements.’ We may well feel doomed to failure and may even resent God for setting the bar so high. How can we be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect? (Matt 5:48)
But before we sink into despair and allow ourselves to give up, we must see that God’s promises far exceed His requirements. To Abram, He promised the whole world would be blessed. (Gen 17:3-8) To the disciples, Jesus promised life in all its fulness and freedom from condemnation (see John 10, John 3). God’s promises involve the impossible: ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?’ (Gen 17:17) Abram could not fully comprehend the scope of what God promised him and continued to seek ways to reduce those promises to his manageable, visible world (‘If only Ishmael might live under Your blessing!’ Gen 17:18) God wanted to do something far greater than bless the son conceived out of Abram’s micro-management (though in His mercy, He did not forget Ishmael!) God wanted to demonstrate to Abram that nothing was too hard for Him. (Gen 18:14)
Grunge Texture Background
We need not fear that God will ask anything of us which, by His grace, He will not supply the means to achieve. His side of the covenant is far greater than anything we are required to do. Our response, like Abram’s, should be to fall facedown in awe. (Gen 17:3, 17) When we see God for who He is, we are amazed at the vastness of His promises to us (see Ps 8). Who are we, that God should promise so much? May this be the year when we embrace God’s promises with faith and thus see the continuation of God’s covenant promises in our generation.