Hagar and Ishmael
8 Isaac grew and became old enough to eat food. At that time Abraham gave a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw Ishmael making fun of Isaac. (Ishmael was the son of Abraham by Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian slave.) 10 So Sarah said to Abraham, “Throw out this slave woman and her son. When we die, our son Isaac will inherit everything we have. I don’t want her son to inherit any of our things.”
11 This troubled Abraham very much because Ishmael was also his son. 12 But God said to Abraham, “Don’t be troubled about the boy and the slave woman. Do whatever Sarah tells you. The descendants I promised you will be from Isaac. 13 I will also make the descendants of Ishmael into a great nation. I will do this because he is your son, too.”
14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a leather bag full of water. He gave them to Hagar and sent her away. Hagar carried these things and her son. She went and wandered in the desert of Beersheba.
15 Later, all the water was gone from the bag. So Hagar put her son under a bush. 16 Then she went away a short distance and sat down. Hagar thought, “My son will die. I cannot watch this happen.” She sat there and began to cry.
17 God heard the boy crying. And God’s angel called to Hagar from heaven. He said, “What is wrong, Hagar? Don’t be afraid! God has heard the boy crying there. 18 Help the boy up. Take him by the hand. I will make his descendants into a great nation.”
19 Then God showed Hagar a well of water. So she went to the well and filled her bag with water. Then she gave the boy a drink.
20 God was with the boy as he grew up. Ishmael lived in the desert. He learned to shoot with a bow very well. 21 He lived in the Desert of Paran. His mother found a wife for him in Egypt.
Dead to Sin but Alive in Christ6 So do you think that we should continue sinning so that God will give us more and more grace? 2 No! We died to our old sinful lives. So how can we continue living with sin? 3 Did you forget that all of us became part of Christ when we were baptized? We shared his death in our baptism. 4 So when we were baptized, we were buried with Christ and shared his death. We were buried with him so that we could live a new life, just as Christ was raised from death by the wonderful power of the Father.
5 Christ died, and we have been joined with Christ by dying too. So we will also be joined with him by rising from death as he did. 6 We know that our old life died with Christ on the cross. This was so that our sinful selves would have no power over us, and we would not be slaves to sin. 7 Anyone who has died is made free from sin’s control.
8 If we died with Christ, we know that we will also live with him. 9 Christ was raised from death. And we know that he cannot die again. Death has no power over him now. 10 Yes, when Christ died, he died to defeat the power of sin one time—enough for all time. He now has a new life, and his new life is with God. 11 In the same way, you should see yourselves as being dead to the power of sin and alive with God through Christ Jesus.
24 “A student is not better than his teacher. A servant is not better than his master. 25 A student should be satisfied to become like his teacher. A servant should be satisfied to become like his master. If the head of the family is called Beelzebul, then the other members of the family will be called worse names!
Fear God, Not People26 “So don’t be afraid of those people. Everything that is hidden will be shown. Everything that is secret will be made known. 27 I tell you these things in the dark, but I want you to tell them in the light. I speak these things only to you, but you should tell them to everyone. 28 Don’t be afraid of people. They can only kill the body. They cannot kill the soul. The only one you should fear is the One who can destroy the body and the soul in hell. 29 When birds are sold, two small birds cost only a penny. But not even one of the little birds can die without your Father’s knowing it. 30 God even knows how many hairs are on your head. 31 So don’t be afraid. You are worth much more than many birds.
Tell People About Your Faith32 “If anyone stands before other people and says he believes in me, then I will say that he belongs to me. I will say this before my Father in heaven. 33 But if anyone stands before people and says he does not believe in me, then I will say that he does not belong to me. I will say this before my Father in heaven.
34 “Don’t think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 I have come to make this happen:
‘A son will be against his father,
a daughter will be against her mother,
a daughter-in-law will be against her mother-in-law.
36 A person’s enemies will be members of his own family.’ Micah 7:6
37 “Whoever loves his father or mother more than he loves me is not worthy to be my follower. Whoever loves his son or daughter more than he loves me is not worthy to be my follower. 38 Whoever is not willing to die on a cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever tries to hold on to his life will give up true life. Whoever gives up his life for me will hold on to true life.
“So do you think that we should continue sinning so that God will give us more and more grace? 2 No! We died to our old sinful lives. So how can we continue living with sin? 3 Did you forget that all of us became part of Christ when we were baptized?”
What is that supposed to mean? Do we get more good things for doing bad? This is a pretty complicated question. So let’s pick it apart some more. A few months ago someone brought up the idea of having a frienemy, and I think that idea might really apply here. If you have a friend, do you try to be nice to them? Of course you do, but sometimes it can be hard, and sometimes you might disagree or even fight. You might be mean to a friend or a friend might be mean to you. What do you do then? Do you keep on fighting? Do you stop being their friend? No, you forgive them, you move on and remain friends. When you forgive someone, or they forgive you, it feels great doesn’t it? Like having a second chance at being friends. How does this situation work with a frienemy? They are your friend, so you still forgive them for being mean, but I bet that they are mean sooner, and a lot more often than other friends. Is it because they like being mean? Maybe, but if they are your friend, it is not likely. I would guess that they act mean because they like having your forgive them, and you can’t be forgiven if you aren’t mean first. Our forgiveness of one another, our friends and ourselves, is a dim reflection of God’s grace. It feels great to the person receiving it, it is free, and makes bad thing go away. Paul asks if we should continue to sin, just to get more grace. He is asking the Romans if they, and we, should be God’s frienemy. Do we love to be forgiven, to receive God’s grace, so much that we act badly, treat people meanly, and sin, just to need to be forgiven?
Understanding that we all can and should forgive, and be forgiven, for things we do wrong. Is seeking forgiveness really better than acting properly, following the rules, and behaving in the first place? Is it better to act bad and be forgiven, or to act good to start with? Is it better to act bad and be forgiven and then act bad again and be forgiven again, or to act good after we are forgiven the first time? Have you ever heard someone say, “How many times have I told you?” when you break a rule? Do you get another chance to act and do as they told you? Usually and especially if it is a parent saying it. They are going to forgive you because they love you, and they will forgive you time after time, but are you being a good friend, are you showing your love for them by continuing to rely on forgiveness?
We have the rules we are supposed to follow, Jesus told us how to act, how to behave towards other people. Should we follow those rules, or at least try to, or should we be frienemies and break the rules, trusting that we will be forgiven?