Scripture: Hebrews 11.1-2
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
Reflection: Faith of the Flawed
By Jon Polk
Hebrews chapter eleven has often been affectionately and appropriately called, “The Hall of Faith.” Reading through this chapter, one can imagine a room full of biblical heroes each presenting their story much like Disney World’s Hall of Presidents exhibit. The roll call sounded here truly is a “great cloud of witnesses.”
These characters and their faith have served to inspire believers for generations. In fact, the purpose of this passage is to demonstrate how ordinary people overcame difficult situations through their faith in God.
For some, though, inspiration can turn to intimidation and the thought of living up to the faith of these “spiritual giants” can seem a daunting task.
However, there are only a few names on this list—Abel, Enoch, Joseph and Samuel—about whom the Bible records little, if anything, negative. For each of the rest, we have a record of some character flaw or significant sin in their life.
- Noah, after the flood, once became so drunk that he exposed himself to his sons and then cursed some of their descendants.
- Abraham not only disbelieved God’s promise of children but also doubted God’s protection—fearing for his life, he lied about his wife being his sister. Not once, but twice.
- Sarah, like her husband Abraham, did not believe God’s promise that she would become a mother, and she even laughed at God.
- Isaac followed in his father Abraham’s footsteps and also lied about his wife being his sister.
- Jacob, jealous of his brother Esau, deceived their father in order to receive the family blessing.
- Moses murdered an Egyptian. He also later disobeyed God’s instruction regarding water from a rock for the people and even took credit for the miracle himself.
- Rahab was a prostitute.
- Samson was greedy, selfish, and had serious issues with women.
- David gave in to his lust, abused his authority as king, committed adultery and murder, and was guilty of trying to cover up the whole incident.
These are the ones lauded for their outstanding faith. There are even others, but we do not have the time or space to recount all the shortcomings of these very human and flawed “heroes” of faith.
These women and men found their place in God’s story not because they were flawless and perfect examples of obedience. They didn’t always follow the right path and make the best choices. But to the best of their ability in the midst of their circumstances, they acted in faith. They are applauded for their faith, because without it, we cannot please God.
The Request for Presence
I call with my whole heart; answer me, O Lord, that I may keep your statutes. — Psalm 119.145
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Full prayer available online and in print.
1 Chronicles 7-8 (Listen – 9:04)
Hebrews 11 (Listen – 6:22)